Lawrence 2-year-old’s death caps a deadly week for kids in hot cars

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — Lawrence police won’t say yet how long 2-year-old Davonte Lashawn Turnerwas in a car or how he ended up alone inside a vehicle Sunday.

But they have said they believe heat played a role in his death.

The city’s Police Chief Gregory Burns Jr. urged people to take extra care when exiting your vehicles.

Kids and Cars also works to educate parents through public awareness campaigns. The agency is aware of seven hot car deaths in the past week, nationwide.

Amber Rollins, the organization’s director, says one of the best ways to make you never leave your child in a hot car, is to put something you’ll need for the day like your laptop or lunch in the backseat. But keeping curious little ones out of the car, can be a little trickier.

Rollins is a mother of a two year old who she was anxious to see when she got back from a trip Monday night.
She has a routine she normally follows to secure her car after it’s locked.

“This is where I put my keys the second I walk in the house, they’re always there,” she said.

But shortly after she arrived home, FOX4 was there to speak to her about the dangers of kids trapping themselves in cars.

Then suddenly her vehicle’s alarm started to sound and her van door slid open.

“He got the keys. That`s exactly what just happened,” Rollins exclaimed. “A lot of people don`t believe a two-year-old is capable of getting into a vehicle on their own, I can tell you from experience they are.”

Her organization introduced the Hot Cars Act this summer that Congress is now debating that would require auto manufacturers to alert drivers to people or pets in the backseat.

So far 38 children have died in hot cars this year; 88 percent of child deaths in hot cars since 1990 were children under the age of three.

A child’s body overheats three to five times faster than an adults. Whether the child crawls in, or is left, it doesn’t take long for him to be at risk of heat stroke, even in temperatures as low as 60 degrees.

“What most people don`t understand is more than half the increase in temperature happens in the first 10 minutes that you close the door and walk away,” Rollins said.

Rollins will wait for Lawrence police to release more information to see if Turner’s death will be added to the 56% of hot car deaths of children unknowingly left in cars or 27% of children who got in on their own.

“I do this every day. If this can happen to me, it can happen to anyone, and it would take two seconds of someone turning their back, going to he restroom, putting the dishes away — and boom he`s outside,” she said, reacting to her child getting hold of her keys. “And by the time you find him in the car, it`s too late.”

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