The nation saw another hot car death tragedy this weekend. This time, an 11 month old girl died after being left unattended in a car in Virginia on Friday afternoon.
According to Fairfax County Police, Franconia Police District – Detectives are investigating the case. Their officers responded with the Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department shortly before 5 pm to the 6400 block of Meriwether Lane in Springfield for a report of an unresponsive child who was left in a vehicle.
The girl was brought to a local hospital where she later died.
A preliminary investigation by Fairfax County Police revealed the child’s father placed the 11-month-old in the rear seat of the SUV at his Springfield home and inadvertently left the child while he used another vehicle to run errands. After returning home, he then drove the SUV to an in-home daycare to pick up another child when he realized the 11-month-old was still in the back seat.
The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will determine the exact cause and manner of death.
In a statement released to the public, Fairfax County police say that detectives consulted with the Fairfax County Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney and that no charges are expected to be placed in this case.
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.