Citizens encouraged to take action, not leave children in hot ca - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Citizens encouraged to take action, not leave children in hot cars

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

Since 1998, more and more children have been left behind in hot cars.

With roughly 38 deaths resulting from it every year, the only explanation statisticians could find was 1998 was the year where recommendations or requirements for child seats be placed in the back of cars causing parents to leave their child in the car.

"Some people do it," Alexandria Gordon said. "I just think it's the most horrible thing ever. I think they're too busy having a conversation on the phone and just never look in the back seat."

Gordon says she'd never forget her son in the car because he wouldn't let her.

"He'd be like, 'Mommy!'" she said. "He'd be trying to take his seat belt off before we even park."

On Sunday morning, a young boy died at a hospital in Charlotte after he suffered a severe heat stroke last Wednesday. Authorities say the young boy climbed into a car outside his home in Buford. According to family members, the boy's mother fell asleep in the home. That's when he went outside and became trapped in the car. The family says the mother slept for about 30 minutes before waking up.

So how hot can it get in a car during a South Carolina summer day? A test conducted saw the temperature reach over 100 degrees in just 20 minutes.

"If you see a child inside a hot car," Captain Lancy Melton of the Richland County Sheriff's Department said, "life is not a spectator event. You've got to get involved."

Officers advise witnesses to call 911 if you see a child or animal in a hot vehicle, but extreme action could also be required.

"If it were me and the child was unresponsive or in distress," Melton said, "I would break the window."

For those who leave their child behind intentionally or unintentionally, there are other consequences for doing so.

"A person would be charged with homicide by child abuse," Melton said, "unlawful conduct towards a child..."

However, there's more than just the charges from law enforcement that come from leaving a child in a hot car.

"Even if you survive," family physician Dr. James Williams said, "there's often permanent damage that's been done. Permanent defects that have to be dealt with. But unfortunately, that can get to a point where the brain doesn't function anymore."

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