CINCINNATI -- On Aug. 23, 2007, Brenda Slaby made a mistake that would make her -- in her own words -- the most hated mother in America.
Slaby, then an assistant principal at Glen Este Middle School, went in to work and left her 2-year-old daughter in her car on a day when temperatures climbed to over 100 degrees. She hadn’t meant to do so, she told Oprah Winfrey in an interview the following year. Taking care of the toddler had not been part of her usual routine, and she’d gone into autopilot instead of remembering to drop her daughter off at daycare.
By the time another teacher noticed that Slaby’s parked car still appeared to have an occupant, Cecilia was dead.
On Aug. 23, 2017, another mother -- this one an employee of Mason’s Procter & Gamble Business Center -- left her daughter in a hot car while she worked. Police said Wednesday they believe the child, just 15 months old, died the same way Cecilia did: by overheating until her fragile body suffered a stroke.
Just like Slaby, the mother came out of the building at the end of her work day and realized her mistake.
Just like Slaby, she was too late to save her child.
Neither mother nor child has been identified in Wednesday’s case, and authorities said it was too early to know whether they would press charges. An autopsy will reveal more details about the infant’s death.
Slaby, when contacted by phone, said she hoped the community would have some sympathy for the mother in this situation.
"My heart breaks for her,” she said. "I would hope the community stands by her and supports her. It's not being a bad mom. It happens to incredibly loving parents ... it happens to incredibly busy, loving parents.”
In the 10 years since her daughter’s death, Slaby has struggled to reassemble the life she had that day. Although she has resumed her career in education -- now as a speech pathologist working with severely disabled children -- she said in a 2014 interview that her daughter’s death still haunts her.
“There’s always ... in the back of my head that I allowed this to happen to Cecilia,” she said then. "So, I think I doubt a lot of things I do as a mom. It’s very hard.”