Hot Car Tragedies

120_degreesWith temperatures, in many parts of Arizona, still in the triple digits….there is a lot of attention on two recent hot-car deaths in our state. Those tragedies have heightened concerns and led to calls for enhanced safety measures.


The deaths of 7-month-old Zane Endress and 1-year-old Josiah Riggins — two Arizona children lost within a day of each other after being left in hot cars — have sparked public outrage and accusations of neglect and carelessness. 

But pediatric experts say any parent or caregiver, “even a very loving and attentive one,” can forget a child is in the back seat when busy, distracted or experiencing a change in routine.

On average, nearly 40 U.S. children die in hot cars every year.

According to Time Magazine, “Temperatures in Phoenix can frequently surpass 100 degrees during the summer. At 100 degrees outside, the interior temperature of a car reach 138 degrees within five minutes, according to ABC 15 Arizona, putting people — especially young children — at serious medical risk.”

Fox 10 in Phoenix interviewed Beth Brown, a Phoenix woman who lost her own child in a hot-car tragedy 10 years ago. You can watch the interview by clicking here or on the picture below.


Ms. Brown now tries to help educate people about the dangers of kids, cars and heat.

“I wish that I could teach people that this can happen to anyone. It has happened to all walks of life — doctors, principals, and teachers and rich people and poor people. It doesn’t matter who you are, you are not immune to this happening.”

She wants the community to understand this isn’t a time to blame the parents, but a time to show compassion.

“You can’t erase the pain. It’s there forever. So none of this criticism is productive, and I don’t think it’s productive to criminalize these parents either,” Brown said.

These tragic incidents have also led to a call for back seat alarms. ABC News wrote, “More than two dozen child and road safety groups are backing the U.S. Senate bill introduced last week aimed at preventing those kinds of deaths by requiring cars to be equipped with technology that can alert drivers if a child is left in the back seat once the vehicle is turned off. It could be a motion sensor that can detect a baby left sitting in a rear-facing car seat and then alert the driver, in a similar way that reminders about tire pressure, open doors and seat belts now come standard in cars.”

“The technology would help because if you’re in a vehicle, your child is in the back seat, and you ignore that alarm: Go to jail. Do not pass go. You had a chance,” said Janette Fennell of the advocacy group Kids and “You talk to any of the judges, they’ll tell you, they’re beyond the hardest things they have to deal with.”

Share your thoughts on whether you think these alarms might be a lifesaving addition to cars, particularly here in our state. Are there other things we could be doing? If so, let us know what you think they are. Generating meaningful conversations around these types of health issues is another way we are working toward our long-term goal of one day making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!


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