A boy died after he was left in a hot SUV in Springfield, Virginia, Fairfax County police said.
First responders were called to the 6700 block of Grey Fox Drive, where they found a boy unresponsive in the driveway of a home. He was taken to a hospital and pronounced dead, police said.
Police said the child was 5 years old and had arrived home with a parent and other siblings earlier in the afternoon.
He was left behind for a unknown reason, strapped in a car seat for what may have been “several hours” and discovered around 3:20 p.m., according to police.
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"Officers responded here for what was reported as a tragic accident, and at this point, I don't have any reason to doubt that," Lt. John Lieb, of Fairfax County police, said.
The temperature outside the car was 93 degrees, and the heat index soared past 100 degrees in the D.C. area, but temperatures inside vehicles can climb much higher.
In 2007, a Virginia woman’s son died after he was forgotten inside a car. Temperatures inside reached 120 degrees, while the outside temperature was a mild 66 degrees.
According to Kids and Cars, a nonprofit dedicated to raising awareness about and preventing these tragedies, 11 children across the country have already died from being left in hot cars this year.
Some car manufacturers have already voluntarily installed safety technology that may help prevent these fatal accidents.
There are vehicles with dashboards that display a warning to check the rear seat. Others have ultrasonic rear occupant alerts that detect whether a child or pet was left in a car after the driver exits the vehicle. Some manufacturers install both.
The $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill that passed in the Senate Tuesday includes a measure directing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration "to require that new cars come equipped with technology to alert the driver to check the back seat when the car is turned off."
Such technology "would allow states to use federal funding to educate the public on the dangers of leaving a child unattended in the backseat of a car, and requires the Department of Transportation to study options for retrofitting existing vehicles to address the problem," U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal's (D-Conn.) office said in a news release.
Keeping Your Kids Safe
Kids and Cars offers some tips to help keep children safe.
- Create a reminder to check the back seat. Put something in the back seat that you will need, like your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or briefcase so that you have to open the back door to retrieve that item every time you park.
- Keep a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat. When the child is placed in the car seat, put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat. It’s a visual reminder that the child is in the back seat.
- Keep car keys and remote openers out of reach of children.
- Use technology. Apps like WAZE have child reminders that are activated when you arrive at your destination.
- If you see a child alone in a vehicle, get involved. Call 911 immediately. If the child seems hot or sick, get them out of the vehicle as quickly as possible.