Va. child's death raising awareness on leaving children unattended in hot cars
GAITHERSBURG, Md. - "Cars can reach 100 degrees inside even on rainy, cool days."
A Virginia man is being held without bond after he told police he forgot about a 2-year-old girl he was caring for in Annandale, leaving her to die in a hot car. It happened on Wednesday when the high temperature was only 71 degrees in the area, but experts say leaving a child unattended in a car can be deadly even on mild days.
FOX 5 linked up with Montgomery County Fire and Rescue on Friday to test how hot a vehicle can get in similar weather. The rain on Friday made it feel even cooler than Wednesday.
A temperature measuring device left inside a van started at 71 degrees and climbed to 100 degrees after about an hour and a half.
When a child's internal temperature reaches 104 degrees, organs start to fail. When it reaches 107 degrees, the child could die.
"Young children's bodies heat up three to four times faster than adults," said Emilie Crown, program director for Montgomery County Fire and Rescue.
According to Safe Kids Worldwide, an average of 37 children die in the United States every year after being left in a car. At least four have already died this year.
The group reports that more than half of the time, it is because the child was forgotten about by the caretaker.
"People are just like, 'I would never do that. I would never forget my child,'" Crown said. "And I've heard enough testimonials and gone to conferences and listened to these parents and grandparents that this has happened to speak, and it's just gut-wrenching. You can tell that it was absolutely accidental, totally unintentional. And it just wrecks lives. It's terrible. So don't have the attitude, 'It could never happen to you.'"
There are now a lot of devices on the market to help you never forget a child in the car. Most involve proximity sensors. You leave one in the car seat and keep the other with you. Some devices link to smartphones. You get an alert when you get too far away from the car seat.
The man who left the toddler in the car in Annandale, Daiquan Fields, was dating the child's mother. Police said the girl was in the car for about seven hours.
Fields, 32, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony child abuse.