The Union Recorder

Local News

July 2, 2014

Law enforcement offers tips for parents in wake of infant car death

MILLEDGEVILLE — The case of a Cobb County father charged in the heat-related death of his toddler son left in the backseat of an SUV has raised numerous concerns in the days since the story broke.

Last year 44 children died across the country resulting from being left inside a vehicle, according to, a national organization that collects and analyzes data on child death incidents caused by negligence and vehicles occurring in the United States.

Local law enforcement officials encourage any adult who sees a child in danger to intervene and take action.

"All concerned citizens should immediately call 911 if they happen to see a child in a hot vehicle," said Capt. Brad King of the Baldwin County Sheriff's Office.  

King's advice to parents includes leaving something in the backseat close to the car seat like a purse or work item to help them remember.

"When you're in the vehicle the best advice I can give is to pay attention to your surroundings, both inside and outside the car," he said. "If you've got a lot going on inside the car, there's a chance you may forget something."

Justin Ross Harris, 33, has told police he was supposed to drive his son to day care that morning but drove to work without realizing that his son was strapped into a car seat in the back. The child was left in the car alone for about seven hours. The temperature that day was 88 degrees at 5:16 p.m., according to a police warrant filed the day after the child died.

Harris is jailed on charges of murder and second-degree child cruelty.

King suggests making a habit of looking at the front and back of the vehicle before exiting.

Even if it is for a small amount of time while running an errand, King advises parents to just not leave children inside the car during hot temperatures.

"People don't realize just how fast a car can heat up from the inside," he said.

In just 15 minutes on a typical summer day, the temperature inside a parked car can jump from 80 to more than 100 degrees, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The NHTSA also states that cracking windows does very little in terms of keeping the car cool and with temperatures in the 60s a car can heat up to well above 110 degrees.

Not many people think about it, but the same advice should be applied to pets as well, said King.

"Just like humans, animals can die of a heatstroke and suffocation too. The best thing to do is to not leave a pet in a car unattended for any period of time."



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