Hot car death of New Mexico child, 2, is 42nd nationally this year | News Coverage from USA

Hot car death of New Mexico child, 2, is 42nd nationally this year

Kristin Lam

USA TODAY

Published 10:07 PM EDT Sep 17, 2019

A 2-year-old child died Tuesday after being left in a hot car in Hobbs, New Mexico, according to the national tracker KidsAndCars.org. 

The accident marks the 42nd case of a child dying of heat exhaustion in ovenlike cars nationally in 2019.

Hobbs Fire and Rescue officials found the child dead in the vehicle, Police Chief John Ortolano told KOB-TV, after receiving a 911 call around 1:30 p.m. A woman told dispatchers she accidentally left the child in her vehicle for several hours, Ortolano said. 

Authorities arrested Tammie Brooks, 40, and charged her with a first-degree felony, the TV station reported. Brooks told police she was babysitting the child, Ortolano said. 

‘I wanted to kill myself’: There’s science behind why parents leave kids in hot cars

This year’s death toll has surpassed the annual average of 38 children dying while trapped in hot vehicles, according to KidsandCars.org, but has not reached the 2018 total of 54. The cases have prompted automakers to announce they will make rear seat reminder systems standard on most passenger vehicles sold nationwide by the 2025 model year.  

Children have difficultly escaping a hot car on their own, and their respiratory and circulatory systems can’t handle heat as well as adults. 

Direct sunlight heats objects inside cars, so temperatures can soar as high as 130 degrees, even when external temperatures are much lower. The body’s natural cooling methods, such as sweating, begin to shut down once the body’s core temperature reaches around 104 degrees. Death can occur at 107 degrees. 

Fatal facts: Hot cars can hit deadly, oven-like temperatures in as little as one hour

To prevent hot car deaths, KidsAndCars.org recommends always opening the back door when parked, placing an essential item in the back seat with a child and asking a care provider to call if a child doesn’t get dropped off on time. Parents can also keep cars locked at all times, teach children to honk a horn and never leave keys within a child’s reach. 

Contributing: Doyle Rice and Morgan Hines, USA TODAY


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