Child Endangerment, Child Neglect, Hot car deaths, sensor technology

Summer heat fatal for car passengers

52_hotcar_deaths_2018Another news report of a smashed window to save infant trapped in hot car.

smashed car window

Jermius Scott is being hailed a hero after he rescued a 4-month-old boy who was reportedly left in a hot car for nearly 12 hours.

According to the National Safety Council, 52 children died in 2018 from being trapped in a hot car, a record number of fatalities. The Hot Cars Act legislation would require sensor technology be installed as standard equipment in all new vehicles that would detect an occupant – a person or animal – in the rear seat of a vehicle if the driver walks away from the vehicle. The Act has been introduced in the Senate and is awaiting the House version of the bill. away.


Several car manufacturers have supported the bill by installing the motion sensor technology as standard features. Consumers can also buy accessories that sense the occupancy of rear seats.



Child Endangerment, Hot car deaths

Hot Car Alert – Greenhouse Effect Kills

Leaving a child or pet alone in a car is a health hazard that may result in death, even if parked in the shade of a tree

It is never a good idea to leave a vehicle unattended, and in some states it is actually against the law. In Florida, for example, “a parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for a child younger than 6 years of age may not leave the child unattended or unsupervised in a motor vehicle for a period in excess of 15 minutes, or for any period of time if the motor of the vehicle is running, the health of the child is in danger, or the child appears to be in distress.” Any person who violates these provisions commits a misdemeanor of the second degree punishable by a fine not less than $50 and not more than $500.

What are the consequences when these behaviors result in death? On June 9th, two toddlers in Texas were intentionally left in a locked car for 15 hours while their mother and boyfriend partied with friends. Amanda Hawkins, the 19-year old mother, was charged with two counts of abandoning or endangering a child. Two weeks prior, two children in Ft. Worth died in a hot car incident after their mother reported them missing. The 2-yr old was found in a locked car holding the mother’s cell phone and car keys. Back in Florida, a 2-year old died in March of this year, after being locked in a car for five hours by his 21-year old half-sister while she went to work at a daycare center. No criminal charges were filed.

Illegal or not, you should NEVER, EVER leave a child alone in a car. It is a health hazard that may result in the death, even if parked in the shade of a tree. Don’t be fooled by the shade – the inside of a vehicle can increase precipitously even when not directly exposed to sunshine. A CNN video explanation of the greenhouse effect that takes place inside a parked car might be the awakening some parents need to understand the dangers rising temperatures pose on people and pets left in an unattended vehicle. Even a mild 70 degrees can turn into a scalding 90 degrees in a car with closed windows after just 10 minutes.

Vehicle_Temperatures_chartHow long does it take for the temperature to rise inside a car? This chart compares the temperature inside and outside a car, at 10 minutes and at 30 minutes lapse in time:

From 1998 to 2016, there were 700 U.S. heatstroke-related deaths of children left in cars. So far this year, reports 11 hot car deaths. An examination of media reports shows the following circumstances:

  • 54% – child “forgotten” by caregiver
  • 28% – child playing in unattended vehicle
  • 17% – child intentionally left in vehicle by adult
  • 1% – circumstances unknown

The inside of a vehicle heats up very quickly as a result of “The Greenhouse Effect”. Even with the windows partially rolled down, the temperature inside a car can reach 125 degrees in minutes, as cracking the windows does not help slow the heating process or decrease the maximum temperature. Much of the increase in temperature – 80% – happens during the first 10 minutes of stopping the car. An additional contributing factor focuses on the rate of overheating – a child’s body overheats 3‐5 times faster than an adult body, and children have died from heatstroke in cars in temperatures as low as 60 degrees.

Hot vehicles are the primary non-crash, vehicle-related killer of children under 14, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Children under the age of 1 are the most common victims, according to More than half of those who left children alone in vehicles did so unknowingly. Other reasons cited: the child got into the vehicle on his or her own (32 percent), child was knowingly left in vehicle (12 percent) and circumstance unknown (2 percent). The Department of Earth and Climate Science at San Francisco State University monitors hot-car deaths, citing many attributed to heatstroke as the cause of death – about 60 percent of non-crash-fatalities in children under 14. Researchers there found that since 1998, the annual average of juvenile deaths in cars has been 38. While the majority of heatstroke deaths in cars occur between June and August, deaths have been recorded for every month besides January over the past 16 years.

dont leave best friend

The same applies to pets –16 states have specific “hot car” laws with statutes that specifically prohibit leaving an animal in a confined vehicle. In many states, however, there are no hard-and-fast rules on the legality of leaving a dog unattended in a vehicle, although offenders can (and frequently do) face animal cruelty charges. In Las Vegas, the legal definition of “leaving a cat or dog unattended in an automobile” prohibits people from leaving a cat or dog alone in a “parked or standing motor vehicle during a period of extreme heat or cold or in any other manner that endangers the health or safety of the cat or dog.” Imagine the effect temperature rises demonstrated in the chart above has on an animal with fur and without water! Because leaving your pet alone in a car is a misdemeanor in Nevada, owners are looking at up to 6 months in jail, and/or up to $1,000 in fines. By committing this crime, you not only face fines and jail, but law enforcement can legally confiscate your pet, sell it or kill it by putting it down humanely.
Fatal Distraction Pulitzer Prize winning article by Gene Weingarten, The Washington Post

How We Can Protect Children From Dying in Hot Cars Editorial

Child Endangerment, DUI/DWI/OWI/OWAI, First Responders

EMT Firefighter on the other side of 2 DUIs


Emergency personnel are usually the first on the scene of a collision involving drunk and drugged drivers. Their role is to help save lives if possible or mitigate the trauma experienced by survivors when the crash scene results in death.  Memories of the crash site details are seared into their minds, just as vivid as the pictures EMTs take for the record  – a head piercing the windshield, a body thrown like a projectile several feet from the car because the victim wasn’t wearing a seat belt, severed limbs, blood everywhere… They suffer the same trauma as the horrors they see at a DUI crash site. These experiences should be enough to dramatically instill EMT personnel with the dangerous consequences of driving impaired. Samantha Lopez must have been absent from these real-life lessons.  The EMT firefighter from Kissimmee, Florida, was pulled over twice in two months for a DUI, the second time with a 3-year old in the back seat.

EMT Ambulance Driver – Arrested for a second DUI in two months

The arresting officer identified the give-aways of drunk driving – the smell of alcohol, slurred speech, glassy eyes and flushed skin, with difficulty maintaining balance. Lopez was arrested on a DUI charge with a blood-alcohol level of 0.182, more than twice the legal limit in Florida.

Lopez shouldn’t have been driving, as she had been arrested on a DUI charge less than two months prior to this recent arrest. Records show that Lopez was accused of rear-ending another vehicle while driving with a 0.204 BAC. In the time between her first and second arrests, Lopez was allowed to continue to perform her duties as a firefighter/EMT at the Kissimmee Fire Department.

Hopefully, this latest arrest will take Samantha Lopez off the job and off the road. It is reported that her 3-year old was entrusted to Lopez’ ex-husband.

Watch the video of Lopez failing the field sobriety test here.