US mum sparks outrage for 'tasteless' prank that she'd left 'baby' alone in car

Bonnie Engle posing with pram next to screenshot of the note in car window
Photo credit: @bonnie_engle / Instagram

A mum-of-three has come under fire online after a questionable joke led viewers to believe she'd left her infant child in the car - alone - while she shopped. 

Bonnie Engle, a US woman who documents her daily life as a mother-of-three on social media, asked for "no judgement" after sharing a video on Instagram that implied her young child had been left alone in the vehicle while she shopped at Target. 

"Please no judgement, he is safe and well," Engle, who has over 148,000 followers on the platform, wrote in the caption.

In the video, a note was shown in the driver's side window that attempted to reassure any passersby that her baby was "okay", adding he had snacks and a drink to enjoy and she'd be "back soon". 

The full note read: "My baby is OK. He has his snacks and his drink! I'm in Target. Be back soon."

US mum sparks outrage for 'tasteless' prank that she'd left 'baby' alone in car

In a surprising twist, however, there was no child to be seen in the vehicle - just a fully-grown man.

Engle's husband, Andrew, was seen sitting in the front seat waiting for his wife to return, staring out the window while enjoying a bag of popcorn and an iced coffee. 

While the joke caused thousands to breathe a collective sigh of relief, for others, it fell flat - with several taking to the comments to express their anger at the "tasteless" prank. 

"Honestly this is so tasteless... let's make a video mocking one of the leading causes of infant/toddler deaths. For likes," one wrote.

Another agreed, "It's really in poor taste, period," with a third adding: "I hope I never get to a point where I find this type of humour funny."

"Because so many kids die from being left in cars, I do not find this funny at all, making light of something that is a serious problem and happens way too often," said a fourth, with one weighing in: "This post just irritated tf [the f**k] outta me - he's a whole grown man."

Others saw the funny side and shared their reactions, with one admitting she was about to get "really upset" before the plot twist took her by surprise.

"I was not expecting that," they added, with a second agreeing: "I got scared for a second."

"My heart dropped and then I LMAO [laughed my ass off]," said a third.

Whether or not the joke was in good humour or poor taste, leaving young children alone in cars is incredibly dangerous - and can be fatal.

Last month, a one-year-old died after being left in a car parked outside of a hospital for nine hours in Washington. The temperature that day in Puyallup, which sits southeast of Tacoma, was between 70 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but the internal temperature of the car when the child was found was around 110, or roughly 43 degrees Celsius, police said.

The incident marked the fourth paediatric vehicular heatstroke death in the US this year, according to, which said an average of 38 children under the age of 15 die in hot cars in the US each year, most during the summer months.

In 2018 and 2019, a record 53 children died each year from being left in a hot car, according to the National Safety Council.