A three-year-old boy in Columbus, Georgia died after he was left inside a hot car for nearly three hours, marking the seventh heat-related death inside a car in the US this year, as temperatures across the country begin to soar.
The Muscogee County coroner reports that Kendrick Engram Jr was found dead inside an SUV in the parking lot of a Wendy’s restaurant on 26 June.
The child’s grandmother had returned home around around 5.30pm that evening after spending the day together with the boy and other children, according to corononer Buddy Bryan. The grandmother realised the boy was missing around 8pm and called the boy’s uncle, who borrowing the car to pick up ice cream, to report that he was missing.
The uncle found Kendrick in the third row of the SUV, according to Mr Bryan. He was pronounced dead around 9pm from asphyxiation from the hot vehicle.
“Just be aware. Just be aware. If you’re an adult, be responsible,” Mr Bryan told reporters. “The children are innocent. They can’t help themselves and when you have a child that puts the responsibility on you.”
Kendrick’s death is at least the seventh hot car-related death in the US this year, according to child safety advocacy group SafeKids.
Roughly 38 children die from being left in a hot car each year, according to Kids and Cars Safety, a national organisation that tracks heat-related car deaths. More than 1,000 children have died from heatstroke in hot cars since 1990 and at least another 7,300 survived, with varying injuries, according to the group.
The organisation and other car safety groups have urged the US Department of Transportation to advance a provision within the sweeping Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that mandates heat-detection equipment and warnings that a child is left alone inside cars.