This weekend in Galveston, a 1-year-old boy died after being left inside a vehicle outside a restaurant. And while the police continue to conduct the investigation, there are still questions and lessons to this disturbing death.
The boy’s father arrived at work at Los Lazos restaurant, 6316 Stewart Road, at about 11 a.m. Saturday and returned to a black Chevrolet Tahoe about 4 p.m., according to police.
The child was unresponsive in the vehicle when the man found him, police said. Emergency personnel attempted to revive the child and transported him to the University of Texas Medical Branch’s John Sealy Hospital, where he was pronounced dead shortly after.
“As of this time, no charges have been filed against any member of this family,” said Sgt. Xavier Hancock, Galveston Police Department spokesman. “The investigation, however, is still fluid and other persons need to be located and interviewed.”
Regardless of what police determine, the death is a tragedy.
Statistically, the numbers of deaths related to being left behind in a parked vehicle are climbing.
According to data compiled by kidsandcars.org magazine, 49 children died when left in a parked vehicle in 2010. In 2018, 51 children lost their lives in hot vehicles, more than any other year on record. The yearly average is 38, but is poised to move higher following the recent escalation in the number of deaths.
While some might be quick to point fingers, defiantly stating it could never happen to them, the reality is accidents do happen. And all the inventions and gizmos in the world won’t prevent a moment of distraction or absent-mindedness. What needs to happen is raising the level of education and awareness about the dangers of leaving children behind in vehicles.
In 90 degree heat, a locked vehicle can easily cross a threshold of 110 degrees inside within five to 10 minutes. And for children, the elevating of their body temperature beyond 104 degrees presents a dangerous medical threat to the mind and organs. Extended periods of exposure often prove fatal.
There are suggestions on how to prevent such accidents from happening, from teaching children vehicles are not places to play or hide, to adults placing their personal belongings in the rear seats to add an additional reminder. In the end, widely educating the public on the dangers may be the best action yet.
Rule of thumb — don’t leave a child alone unattended in a vehicle for any reason. Too many things can go wrong from heat stroke to kidnapping. And if you see a child left unattended, tell someone. Let’s turn around this preventable number and protect the lives of children.
• Leonard Woolsey