Numerous cases have been reported in Connecticut of babies, infants, toddlers and children being left in hot cars this summer, and the hottest season has only just begun.
Tragically, 15-month-old Benjamin Seitz of Ridgefield died this week when his father went to work while he was left inside the car. Police said the baby was supposed to be dropped off at a daycare, and the investigation continues.
Police made arrests twice this week of people who allegedly left young children in cars at the Target parking lot on Universal Drive in North Haven.
- Cassandra Nonossoild, 27 of East Haven, was arrested July 7 after leaving her two children in her vehicle for 16 minutes while she was in Target.
- Elizabeth Ball, 44 of Woodbridge, was arrested July 10 after leaving her 7 year old in a hot car for 20 minutes while she shopped in Target.
- Brian Pavao, 33 of Groton, was charged with leaving a six month old in a boiling hot car for 30 minutes on July 1 in New London while he was shopping. He told police he blamed texting for forgetting his child was in the car, police have said. The temperature inside the car reached 130 degrees, police said.
- On July 3, police in Orange arrested Nathalie Stonier of Shelton with leaving her 3 year old in a hot car while she shopped at Trader Joe’s.
- John Morgan of Waterford was charged after he left his two children, who are 6 and 9 years old, while he went inside to work July 8. Police said the temperature inside his vehicle reached 100 degrees.
This is a serious issue in Connecticut, and State Police even sent out a news release warning the public about the dangers and consequences of leaving children in cars.
To demonstrate the devastating heat of a car parked in the summer sun, a Texas police officer turned off his patrol car and sat without air conditioning, recording his experience on video in five minute intervals.
Cpl. Jessie Peterson of the Highland Village Police Department only lasted 30 minutes in quickly-rising temperatures of the car before he had to get out and recover.
Peterson was sweating after the first five minutes, though the air had been on high right before he turned off the car. When half an hour had passed, he was flushed, sweating and had trouble breathing. At the time of his experiment, he said the high outside was 94 degrees.
A man in Raleigh, NC, did a similar experiment in June to share the same message with parents. Several other people have followed suit, closing themselves in cars and sweating it out as a warning.
So far this year, 16 children have died of heatstroke in the U.S. after being left in hot cars, according to Jan Null, certified consulting meteorologist at San Francisco State University. This number is accurate as of Friday, July 11.
In 2013, that number reached 44 child deaths.
This year is about on track to match the annual averages for child deaths in hot vehicles, according to Sue Auriemma, vice-president of KidsAndCars.org, a research organization dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers vehicles pose to children.
Leaving a purse or briefcase in the backseat can remind drivers to check for children before leaving a car.
The most important thing is to make checking part of your routine.
Anyone who sees a child left unattended in a car should call 911, according to Connecticut State Police.
— Patch Editor Brian McCready contributed to this report.