1-year-old girl dies after being left inside car all day in Tampa
A 1-year-old girl died after being left inside a hot car for hours on Monday in Florida, marking the fifth hot-car death in the Sunshine State this year and the 50th nationwide.
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The 1-year-old was found unconscious inside her family’s car parked outside their Tampa home on Monday evening. The child’s parents called 911 around 6:30 p.m. local time and she was transported to a nearby hospital where she was pronounced dead, according to the Tampa Police Department.
Investigators learned the little girl had been left inside the car since Monday morning. Temperatures reached above 90 degrees Fahrenheit in Tampa that day.
“It appears it was a very busy morning for the family,” police spokesman Steve Hegarty told Tampa ABC affiliate WFTS. “They have several other children as well, and in an effort to get everybody where they needed to go, the toddler was left in the back seat.”
The child’s death remains under investigation. Hegarty said it appears to be accidental and investigators have found no signs of foul play.
“The dad used the vehicle the toddler was in to take people to school and to work, then took a separate car to work and that caused him to forget the child was in the back seat of the car,” he told WFTS. “He left and went to work and then came home.”
Last year was the worst in history for child hot-car deaths in the United States, with a total of 54 fatalities nationwide, according to data collected by KidsAndCars.org, a national nonprofit child safety organization. Now at 50 deaths, this year is getting extremely close to matching that record.
Janette Fennell, president of KidsAndCars.org, wants parents to understand that accidentally leaving your child in the car “can happen to anyone.”
“As a county we need to understand that you can’t educate a brain not to forget,” she told ABC News Tuesday, explaining that the “No. 1 indicator [of a hot-car incident] is a change in routine.”
KidsAndCars.org is advocating for Congress to pass the Hot Cars Act of 2019 which would require rear occupant alarm technology in all cars so the presence of a child can be detected.
“There’s two automakers already that have that type of technology in their vehicle — it’s not like it’s a mystery,” Fennell said.