Kids in hot cars: More common than you think

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52 children died last year after being left in hot vehicles across the United States. In nearly every case, the parent forgot the child was in the back seat.

On Thursday, a father was arrested and charged for leaving his 3-year-old in his driveway. Smryna Police say Daylin Levesque died of heatstroke. 23-year-old Dylan Levesque was charged with Aggravated Child Abuse and Neglect, a class A felony.

“We feel very strongly that charging parents in situations like this actually makes it worse,” said Amber Rollins, Director of Kids and Cars. The group raises awareness about how leaving children unattended in around vehicles can hurt or kill them.

Rollins says the 52 children who died last year from heatstroke or hyperthermia was a record number.

One of those children was 1-year-old Katera Baker. Her father left her in a car in East Nashville. He was not charged.

“You could have two of the same circumstances and in one case the parent is not charged and in the other case the parent is charged to the fullest extent of the law,” Rollins told News 2.

She said it’s rare, if not unheard of, that a parent leaves their child in a car on purposes. Still, according to Rollins, a parent is charged about in half of all cases.

Rollins said there are common factors in all hot car deaths including sleep deprivation, a change in routine, or thinking someone else has the child.

“There is brain science about how our memory systems can fail us, especially when we’re fatigued and stressed out, and nobody is immune from this happening,” she said.

To prevent a hot car death you’re urged to

  • Look before you lock
  • Put something in the backseat that you need
  • Have your daycare or school call immediately if your child doesn’t show up as scheduled
  • Verbally confirm where your child is located

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