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Look before you lock: As temps rise, so do child deaths from being trapped inside a vehicle

On average, 38 children under the age of 15 die each year from heatstroke after being left in a car.

ATLANTA — In 2023, eight children have died from being left inside a vehicle. So far, none of those deaths have happened in Georgia but as temperatures are rising, the chances of a child dying from heatstroke inside a hot car increase. 

On average, 38 children die each year from heatstroke after being found inside a vehicle. 

Looking back over the past six years, seven children have died in Georgia according to the National Safety Council. Only one of those children was from metro Atlanta. 

In 2022, 8-month-old Nova Grace Whatley-Trejo was found inside a car hours after her father, David Japez McCorry Whatley, was arrested in Snellville at the police department. 

Credit: Provided
Nova Grace Whatley-Trejo

By the time anyone knew baby Nova Grace was in the vehicle, it was too late. Whatley is charged with second-degree murder following Nova's death. 

The same year, three other children died across Georgia in hot cars. In 2020 and 2021, there were no reported hot car deaths involving children. In 2019, there were two child deaths and one in 2018. 

It doesn't take long for your car to turn into a death trap not just on hot days but also warm days. 

Credit: WXIA
Hot Car Index

Temperatures are forecasted to be in the mid to upper 90s through the Fourth of July holiday. Within 30 minutes even at 85 degrees, your car heats up to 119 degrees, and in an hour it creeps towards 130 degrees. 

It's not just children you need to be careful with when it comes to hot cars but also your four-legged furry friends. 

Every year, hundreds of pets die across the country from heat exhaustion due to being left inside hot vehicles. 

It happens quickly. Veterinarians said a dog can have a heatstroke in just a 15-minute time span. Also, cracking your windows doesn't do much to bring down the temperature. A dog can only pant so much until it's just too hot. 

In Georgia, there is a Good Samaritan Law in place to offer immunity if you come across an emergency situation such as a child or pet being locked in a hot car. 

However, you need to know which cases this immunity applies to. First, it does not apply to the public in a case of a pet being locked in a hot car. It only provides immunity to first responders if they must break a window to rescue the pet. 

The law does offer first responders and the public immunity if you must break a window to rescue a child or elderly adult who has been left in a hot car. 

As for a pet left in a hot car, the best thing to do is call 911 immediately. Get help there fast and if a window needs to be broken, let a first responder take over. If you do choose to break a window, you could be liable for damage caused to the vehicle. 

The same goes for a child or elderly adult but if help is not getting there fast enough and a parent or guardian is nowhere to be found, then you are covered by the Good Samaritan for any damage caused trying to rescue the person. 

At the end of the day, hot car deaths are 100% preventable. Look in your backseat before you lock your car every time. 



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