2-Month-Old Dies After Being Left in Car for Hours During 84 Degree Weather

August 31, 2019 Updated: August 31, 2019

A 2-month-old baby died in a hot car in Kentucky on Aug. 29 after a family member “unintentionally” left him inside the vehicle for several hours.

The Lexington Police Department said in a press release that its detectives identified the baby as Valen Hakizimana.

The police said that its officers were dispatched to a home on Barksdale Drive at about 7:30 p.m. on Thursday after they received the report of a dead infant.

“Based on the preliminary investigation, detectives believe a family member unintentionally left the child in a car for several hours Thursday. An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be hyperthermia,” said the Lexington Police Department.

The temperature in Lexington on Thursday was 84 degrees on an average, according to Accuweather.com

No criminal charges have been placed against anyone and the case is currently under investigation.

People responded with horror and shock at the infant’s death.

“Unacceptable!! I don’t have children of my own, BUT I have never forgotten when I have other’s babies with me!” wrote a user in response to the Police’s post on Facebook.

“This breaks my heart. I can’t imagine the absolutely devastating anguish this family must be in,” wrote another user.

Another user commented expressed anguish: “The love I had for my child was love and he was always on my mind. I do not understand how anyone can leave a child or animal in a car. They need to be left in a hot car just like this baby was. You murdered a baby. Wonder if this was an anchor baby?”

Hot Car Deaths

Hot car deaths are mostly observed in cases where people get trapped in hot cars and are unable to help themselves. Children are among the worst impacted by such situations.

According to NoHeatStroke.org, 834 children have died in the United States due to Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke (PVH) since 1998. All of these deaths were preventable.

Explaining how the heatstroke deaths happen, the organization said: “The atmosphere and the windows of a car are relatively ‘transparent’ to the sun’s shortwave radiation and are warmed little. However, this shortwave energy does heat objects that it strikes. For example, a dark dashboard, steering wheel, or seat temperatures often are in the range of 180 to over 200 degrees F.”

Every year, an average of 38 children under the age of 15 die from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle, according to Injury Facts.

In 2018, 52 children died after being left in a hot car.

“Research indicates that in more than half of these fatalities, the child was forgotten in the vehicle by a parent or caregiver,” said the Injury Facts.

The number of children who have died in hot cars so far in 2019 has been 37 and this number was 53 in 2018, according to NoHeatStroke.org.

Kids and Cars

“Parents and caregivers can act immediately to end these deaths,” according to the U.S. National Safety Council’s website. “Even on relatively mild days, temperatures inside vehicles still can reach life-threatening levels in minutes, and cracking the window doesn’t help.”

“The National Safety Council advises parents and caregivers to stick to a routine and avoid distractions to reduce the risk of forgetting a child. Keep car doors locked so children cannot gain access, and teach them that cars are not play areas. Place a purse, briefcase or even a left shoe in the back seat to force you to take one last glance.”

According to experts, children, in particular, are in acute danger in a vehicle with the windows rolled up on a hot day.

Jan Null, a San Jose State professor and former meteorologist with the National Weather Service, told SFGate that the temperatures inside vehicles heat up rapidly, with the air rising about 19 degrees over the outside temperature in the first 10 minutes and rising another 10 degrees in the next 10 minutes.

What’s more, Null said the bodies of small children heat up three to five times faster than adults.

“So, while you and I could be in a car that’s, say, 109 degrees, an infant or small child would be to the point of entering heat stroke,” he said.

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