A hot car, a forgotten baby and a faith angle


That was the teaser by a Facebook friend who posted a news story out of Alabama.

Sufficiently intrigued, I clicked the link. I should have grabbed a tissue first.

At first glance, the heartwrenching story by AL.com/The Birmingham News shows no sign of a religion angle. It just seems like a really sad story from the police beat. In fact, a public safety reporter named Carol Robinson wrote it.

The lede:

Katie Luong is inconsolable.

She knows people blame her for leaving her 11-month-old daughter to die in a sweltering SUV. But no one — not one single person — blames her more than she blames herself.

“I want to tell everybody that I wish I was in that car seat, not her,” the weeping 31-year-old mother told AL.com/The Birmingham News today. “If I had to die for her to live, I would have done that.”

Gabriella Gi-Ny Luong, known to family members as Ella, was discovered by her mother about 1:20 p.m. Wednesday, still strapped in her car seat in the locked Lexus parked outside the family’s Genesis Nail Spa. The temperature outside was about 90 degrees; inside the car it was roughly 127 degrees, authorities said.

Ella was unresponsive. Efforts, first by a nearby business owner and then paramedics, to revive her were unsuccessful. They rushed her to Children’s of Alabama hospital anyway, where the staff pronounced her dead a short time later.

What a tragedy! It’s one that brings to mind “Fatal Distraction,” the 2010 Pulitzer Prize-winning feature story by the Washington Post’s Gene Weingarten. If you’ve never read that piece, it might change your perspective on parents who endure this nightmare of their own making.

But why does the Alabama story merit GetReligion treatment? Because we point out holy ghosts in secular news reporting. In this case, though, I found no such ghosts. Cue the Hallelujah Chorus.

Instead, the reporter lets religion — and words such as God, prayer and faith — unfold naturally in the story:

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