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Half of kids who died in a hot car were forgotten. Should vehicles have back seat sensors?

Ga. governor: Don't leave kids in hot cars

On May 31, 2016, Governor Nathan Deal, First Lady Sandra Deal, and Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs called for families and caregivers of children to have heightened awareness of the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles. Since 2010, 11 chi
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On May 31, 2016, Governor Nathan Deal, First Lady Sandra Deal, and Commissioner Amy M. Jacobs called for families and caregivers of children to have heightened awareness of the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles. Since 2010, 11 chi

A 3-year-old boy left for three hours in a hot car Oct. 31 in south Fulton County was the 43rd child who died from heat stroke in a vehicle nationwide and the fourth child in Georgia this year.

Georgia ranks fifth in the nation for the most hot cars child deaths with a total of 32 deaths from 1995-2007, according to KidsAndCars.org, an advocacy group.

The Georgia deaths this year include a 6-month-old baby left in a vehicle for more than five hours in Milledgeville Aug. 28. The baby died eight days later.

In the Oct. 31 death, Fulton County police charged the boy’s mother, Lillian Stone, 25, with murder Tuesday — a week after she was initially charged with first-degree cruelty to children, the Associated Press reported. The boy was pronounced dead Saturday at a hospital, where he’d been rushed after a passerby discovered him in the locked car and called 911.

KidsAndCars.org supports proposed federal legislation to require sensors in the rear seats of vehicles to prevent children from being left behind in hot cars.

“Let's hope that the HOT CARS Act of 2017 can be passed quickly, so technology can be added to vehicles to help prevent these unthinkable fatalities,” Amber Andreasen, the advocacy group’s director and volunteer manager, said in an email.

In more than half of hot car deaths nationwide, caregivers forgot the child was in the back seat, according to a website created by climatoligist Jan Null, who tracks heat stroke deaths.

“Any lives (that) are saved by the implementation are great. But it must be kept in mind that the main focus of ‘devices’ would be toward only the 54 percent of the cases where a child is forgotten; thus, not a solution for the other 46 percent, or 17 of the average 37 lives lost per year,” Nullen said on the website.

WSB-TV reported that Stone told police she forgot the child while running errands, but sources told the television station they have evidence that shows otherwise.

Becky Purser: 478-256-9559, @BecPurser

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