While October temperatures continue to cool across the country, in many places, even with a moderate amount of heat and abundant sunshine, a hot car can become a vehicle of death. Sadly that was the case for Sayah Deal, the 1 year, 9 months-old girl who perished after being locked in a car in Last Vegas on Monday.
According to a police report, Deal’s father, Sidney, 27, said he accidentally locked his keys in the car and left it running while his daughter was inside.
While he attempted to track down his mother to learn how their insurance could provide locksmith services, his brother arrived and prepared to break the window to rescue the child. The report added that Deal told his brother he had just purchased the vehicle and didn’t have the money to fix a broken window. As such, he insisted that he not break the window.
Upon arriving at the scene, police also offered to break the window but again Deal told them not to. After several minutes, the officer ignored Deal’s request and broke the back window anyway to get inside the car. Unfortunately it was too late for the young girl: she was dead.
According to a report from the Clark County Department of Family Services, the child’s family has been investigated five times since 2018 for possible abuse. Child Protective Services received 3 allegations of neglect in July and September 2018, one allegation in January 2019, and another allegation of abuse in June 2020. Child Protective Services said all of the allegations were found to be unsubstantiated.
Deal was arrested and jailed with a felony child abuse charge and was to appear in court on Tuesday. He refused to show in court citing medical reasons. On Thursday, he posted a $20,000 bond and was able to leave prison. His next court hearing is scheduled for December 3.
The girl’s mother, Mariah Coleman, has posted a GoFundMe to help cover the costs of Sayah’s funeral costs. Coleman wrote, “I am a single parent and getting my princess laid properly means the most to me.” As of the publishing of this article, $2,132 was raised towards a $5,000 goal.
Sayah was the 24th child to die from being left behind in a hot car this year. 53 children perished from the same fate in the U.S. last year.
According to NoHeatstroke.Org, the majority of hot car deaths, amounting to 54% of them, happen because someone forgets a child in a car. About 46% of the time a child was forgotten, the caregiver had planned to drop the child off at a care facility such as a daycare or preschool. Almost 75% of all children who are forgotten and die are under 2 years old.
Heatstroke occurs when a person’s temperature exceeds 104 degrees F. At that point, the ability for a human to regulate their temperature and bodily functions fails. At first, symptoms of heatstroke include dizziness, disorientation, confusion, sluggishness, loss of consciousness, and rapid heartbeat. Once the body temperature climbs to 107 degrees or greater, internal organs begin to shut down and human cells are damaged. It is at this point death can quickly occur. This is especially true in children; small bodies can’t regulate body temperatures as efficiently as an adult’s; as such, a child’s body can warm 2-3 times faster than that of an adult.
Automobiles can become deadly ovens in the summer. When the outside temperature is only 70, the temperature inside a vehicle can climb to 113 degrees in an hour. On a 95 degree day, temperatures inside a vehicle can warm to 138 degrees in an hour.
Authorities warn drivers to never leave a child in an unattended car, even with the windows down. Drivers should make it a habit to open the rear door of the car every time they park to ensure no one is left inside. Children have also been known to sneak into cars on their own, becoming trapped and dying as a result. To prevent that, authorities recommend that people keep their vehicle locked at all times, even when it is inside a garage. Authorities also recommend that keys never be left within reach of children. If a child is ever missing, people should immediately check the inside, floorboards, and trunk of all vehicles in the area.