Father Of Boy Who Died In Hot Car Says He Already Feels Punished

CLEVELAND (AP) - The father of a baby boy who died in a hot car when the man went to work says he cannot be punished any worse than the feeling he already suffers.

"There's no punishment that anybody walking this planet could give me that could ever compare to how I feel," Todd Costello, 33, of Medina, told The Plain Dealer in an interview published Thursday. "Punishing me isn't just punishing me, it extends into my family. It hurts my wife. It takes away from being a father to my daughter."

Nine-month-old Tyler Costello died July 29. He was found in the car about three hours after his father went to work and apparently forgot about the youngster.

Costello said there are questions about that day that he can't answer himself.

"I still ask myself a thousand questions a day," he said. "It takes a lot to get out of bed. I still lay there sometimes assuming, or waiting, to hear him talk, to hear that he's awake, and that it's time for somebody to go get him. That moment never comes."

His wife, Melody, 27, said she has forgiven her husband.

"When I saw Todd come into the hospital, when he saw his son and me holding him, that was when I knew that I had to forgive him," she said. "We took vows five years ago for better or worse. If this is the worst we have to encounter in our marriage, I think we may be OK."

Todd Costello, acting on advice from their lawyer, declined to answer some questions, including what he was thinking about as he drove to work and how he forgot that his son was in the back seat.

Relatives have said the death was an accident, a result of Todd being distracted by a change in the baby-sitting routine that day and an upcoming presentation at work.

Normally, Melody dropped Tyler off at her mother's home. But Melody decided to give her mother a day off from child care to prepare for a family wedding. On the day the boy died, Todd was to take the infant to the home of a friend who served as a backup baby sitter.

No charges have been filed, but the case has been referred to the Medina County grand jury.

The Medina County coroner said that Tyler died of hyperthermia -- overheating. The infant's temperature had reached 108 degrees when he was declared dead at the hospital. The temperature outside was 83 degrees.

(Copyright 2002 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)