When a Lathrop Police Services deputy spotted somebody in a handicapped parking spot that didn’t appear to have the required permit, they thought it would be a simple ticket.
But when the deputy walked up to the vehicle, they realized that there were also two young children in the back seat of the car, and that despite temperatures expected to reach almost 100 degrees on Thursday, the vehicle was off, and the back windows of the vehicle were only partially down.
What started as a ticket quickly became a crime as the driver – who came out a short while later and tried to explain to the deputy that they had nobody to watch their children and had to run a quick errand – was cited for the parking violation as well as child endangerment.
“Never leave children unattended inside a vehicle, not even for a minute,” Lathrop Police Services announced in a social media post about the incident. “Despite the windows being down, cars still get hot and many things can happen in a matter of minutes.”
According to KidsandCars.org – the website that Lathrop Police encouraged the community to visit – there have already been two children that have died as a result of being left in a hot car already this year, and there were 53 children that died under similar circumstances in 2019. With an average number of deaths attributed to heatstroke from a vehicle coming in at around 39, the United States averages one every nine days – except for in years like 2018, when the 54 children that died set a grim record.
Even well-intentioned parents have found themselves to victims of the greenhouse effect in vehicles when their children are left behind – with temperatures heating up to above 125 degrees and the majority of that increase happening in the first 10 minutes of the vehicle being stopped and turned off.
Even cracking the windows doesn’t help stave off the effect of the sunlight and the tight confines of the vehicle, and children have died from heatstroke in cars when temperatures outside were in the 60’s.
Of all of the children who have died as a result of heatstroke in a vehicle, 88 percent were 3 years of age or younger, and 55 percent were 1 year of age or below. The vast majority of child deaths from heatstroke inside of a vehicle were as a result of unknowingly being left in the car seat – 56 percent – and the percentage of children who were knowingly left, 14 percent, is the lowest of the known circumstances about how the child got into the vehicle.
Even more startling, more than one-quarter – 26 percent – of deaths from children in hot cars come as the result of children gaining access to the car without the knowledge of the parents.
For more information about how to prevent tragedies from occurring, visit www.kidsincars.org.
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 209.249.3544.