It was hot as hell inside the car the day 21-month-old Remington Engler’s mother mistakenly left her behind. There’s no doubt she suffered in the hours leading up to her death by vehicular heatstroke.

It was a horrible way to go.

It’s only natural for those left behind to vent their anger on the mother whose actions that morning proved fatal to her daughter. But here’s the thing: Poor little Remington wasn’t the only one who suffered an unimaginable horror that day.

Nicole Engler was plunged into a hell that day from which she may not ever be able to recover.

Engler told police she believed she had dropped her daughter off at Cobb Street School day care. She parked in the lot of Evergreen Family Medicine in Roseburg, where she works as a family nurse practitioner, and put in her day’s work. She didn’t realize her mistake until she returned to her car a little after 4 p.m., when her workday was done, and found her daughter still in the car, unconscious and blue.

Her coworkers will be forever haunted by her screams as she rushed in with her daughter, as they tried, and failed, to save the girl. The mugshot taken after Engler was arrested for manslaughter reveals the face of a woman who’s just experienced a mother’s worst nightmare.

Some who’ve commented on this story on Facebook and elsewhere, suggested Engler should have the book thrown at her. More extreme voices suggested she be hanged, or even shut in a hot car to die.

The loss of a child like this pains the whole community. It’s devastating. It’s unacceptable. We just can’t stand it, even if we never met the girl. Even if we weren’t there when it happened.

It’s natural for us to want someone to pay. Our desire for retribution is magnified by our desperate need to believe we could never find ourselves in Engler’s shoes, that we could never forget our child in the car.

But for every person who reacted with fury, there were two more who counseled mercy. Friends have her on a suicide watch now that Engler is out on bail. Her boss is telling everyone who will listen what a wonderful mother she was and urging the community to rally around her. Patients, and even complete strangers, offered up prayers.

Is there room for forgiveness here?

We think there is. Frankly, we aren’t certain what purpose it serves to charge Engler with a crime. It seems that the police do not believe Engler intended to harm her daughter. The charge she faces is manslaughter, not murder. If the case goes to trial, the arguments are likely to center around whether she was negligent. If she’s convicted, she’ll face a mandatory minimum sentence of 75 months in jail.

Now, if the story was that Engler had decided to leave her daughter in the car, and take a chance that she’d be OK, we would feel differently. But Engler said she didn’t think her daughter was in the car. Our best guess is that Engler was weighed down with the concerns of a demanding job and driving on autopilot to work because she didn’t usually take her daughter to daycare in the morning. Possibly, she was lulled into complacency by the silence of a sleeping daughter in the backseat, and just forgot she was there. Until it was too late.

The thing is, in many jurisdictions across the country, events like this are treated not like crimes, but like the horrible accidents they are.

We can’t see any purpose to trial and punishment here. After all, what punishment by jail or fine could ever be worse than the punishment of losing your beloved child forever, and knowing it was your mistake that ended her life? And if the goal is to deter parents in the future from doing the same thing — well, we don’t see how this would accomplish that. Because the next parent who’s convinced she left her daughter at daycare and mistakenly leaves her in the car won’t be thinking, ‘Oh, I’d better not leave her in the car or I might get arrested.’ She’ll be thinking she left her child at daycare. Just what Engler thought.

Unless there are some facts that we don’t know about which contradict our understanding of what happened, we hope the district attorney will see this the same way we do, and choose to drop the charges.

And what are the rest of us to do with our emotions? Check the backseat, every single time. Treat our kids like every day counts. And let Engler and her family grieve in peace.

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(21) comments

SanLuisGirl

My heart breaks for Nicole and this family. She will never be the same person she was before losing Remy. There is no greater punishment than what she is living with now, and every day for the rest of her life. I wish her nothing but love during this horrific time; I can't imagine the pain of losing your child this way.

Matthewphysician

PLEASE PREVENT THESE THINGS BY REMOVING ONE SHOE AND PLACE IT IN BACK SEAT NEXT TO CHILD. THIS MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE TO FORGET THE CHILD!!!!!!!!!

bohica13

Funny, but effective!

Mogie

Good idea!

TLH-ALB1

You can't remember your child or for that matter see your child in the car, but you can remember to go get mid-day coffees for yourself and co-workers (and still not see your child)... Was she drug tested when arrested? In her line of work and on the job (I use on the job loosely here) at the time, she should have been drug tested. It's a common practice when injuries or accidents while at work. Either way, her story of forgetfulness stinks!!

bohica13

Why do you assume she was high on drugs? Your story of condemnation STINKS!

TLH-ALB1

The only assumption is made on your part, I merely asked a question.

bohica13

Because YOUR assumption that a drug test might have been appropriate you asked the question.

TLH-ALB1

bohica13 = at least I know I'm engaging with a 13 year old troll. [smh]

Debrareecesimons

Having a small child asleep in an infant seat or car seat in the back when you are on your way to work or wherever and a change in your routine has occurred is a recipe for disaster. I would defy the law and keep my child in the front seat as I did with my two children when they were young because this could happen and to suggest she was drug-addled is Despicable..

TLH-ALB1

As a single father, working sales from home and travelling, my daily routine was always varied from the norm. BUT, the one constant routine was...I NEVER FORGOT MY SON. Despicable = People defending a poor excuse for a parent and her negligent actions.

gardengal

Something that is very hard for me to understand is, in the article----she thought she left the child at a day care, that word thought, I don't know how this could be when you either carry or walk this child to the day care and you can't remember this? Something is not very clear here.
More costly mistakes are made from being in a hurry.
Also, it is hard for me to understand how you can get out of your care and not notice your child either in the front or back seat.
My own experience, many many years ago, (43 to be exact) shopping with my 2 year old during a Sears sale, in another state. I had 2 large packages which i was unable to hold my daughters hand . I told her to hold very tightly to my pant leg as we slowly crossed the parking lot isle to the car. When we reach the car, my first priority was put her in her car seat and latch the belt. The packages was my least concern. As I was driving through the parking lot, another driver waved me down to tell me the packages were on top of my car. But lat least my daughter was safely in her car seat. How well I know the importance of keeping your mind on your child.
I just want to convey my heartfelt condolences to the family of this child.

Debrareecesimons

She was on her way to work and her routine was varied and her child was asleep and there is no comparison in that and walking out with packages in your arm holding a child in the other arm. I'm sure her child was probably more important to her than anything in the world and now her suffering will be immense the rest of her life as long as she lives

Kwalk

Nicole was my primary care provider. My heart is broken for her, her husband and extended family. I am praying for the Engler family every day. Punishing Nicole any further would be inhumane. Please allow this family to deal with this horrific accident in private. May God bless and heal the Engler family.

TEB

This horrific tragedy is not an isolated incident! Since laws were put in place to seat infants and small children in the back seat for safety reasons, the average hot car deaths is 37 year! To all of you pointing the finger, desiring Nicole Engler to receive the toughest sentencing, I would say, “He who is without sin cast the first stone”!! This woman has already received the worst punishment possible for a parent to experience. Why must you continue kicking her when she is bleeding at the bottom of the pit? Just remember, we will ALL stand before God and give an account for our actions! I would like Nicole and her family to know that we are weeping with them and praying for God to bring them comfort, healing and hope like only He can do!

bohica13

Concur. I went a step further- I wrote a letter to our DA requesting clemency. Locking this woman up serves no one. It doesn't serve justice. It doesn't serve the state, and it doesn't serve her in particular. She will punish herself far more than any court could, and for life. Leave her alone, and close the books on this terrible tragedy. This is the only civilized way to end this.

Debrareecesimons

Amen

Rise722

I would hate to have this woman "help" me, if she works in the medical field....many, many people die from the wrong medication, or other "mistakes."

bohica13

What a silly analogy!

Debrareecesimons

It sounds as if she was quite excellent at her job and had many patients who cared for her and a staff who cared for her. She has lost the most important thing in her life because her routine was buried and her baby was asleep in the back. I'm sure you are not perfect by any means but to dare suggest anything other than sadness for this woman who will live with this the rest of her life and wants to commit suicide now to suggest anything else is perfectly despicable. In fact maybe you should put down what you do for a living and how much you responsibility is so that we can make judgments about you. Children should be in the front. Air bags deflated if they are the problem but no baby should be left in the back ever even if it is the law because it is easy to forget something when your routine is changed especially when it is a quiet sleeping baby and you are tired on your way to a busy day in a medical clinic.

Debrareecesimons

Apparently there is no way to edit my comment but her routine was varied is what I was saying and if there are other grammar mistakes this is voice activation and so be it but you get my gist

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