Once again we are faced with the terrible tragedy of young lives snuffed out as the result of sheer stupidity. In an autopsy released thursday,September 12, in Charelston, SC, Coroner Glenn Rhoad confirmed that two toddlers found dead, wrapped in garbage bags, under the kitchen sink in their home in Hanahan were victims hyperthermia. Trinity,1, and Shawn Cambell Jr, 4, were left in their mothers car on Tuesday, July 31. According to an AP report, the babysitter canceled and the single mother, Sametta Heyward, had to bring them to work with her. Heyward allegedly set up 2 portable fans in the vehicle and left the children with food and beverages, then off to work she went. The autopsy would show that they had died by the time she finished her shift.
As a mother of three , I cannot begin to fathom the nauseating sorrow, the horrific guilt, the unrelenting grief that Sametta Heyward must wake with every morning and fall asleep to every night. I know that this could not have been intentional, but by the same token I know that these types of deaths are among the most preventable. Hopefully the following information will make someone reconsider leaving their child in a car for whatever reason. If you live paycheck to paycheck, as I know this young single mother must have, well..the phone will have to get shut off, the kids will have to eat tomato soup and crackers for a few days. Whatever it takes. Work will have to wait.
Jan Null, CCM, Adjunct Professor of Meteorology at San Fransisco State University , compiled a study entitled Hyperthermia Deaths of Children in Vehicles , viewable at http://ggweather.com/heat/. The results are unbelievable. Acccording to the research, at least 28 children in 2007 alone have died as a result of being left in cars. At least 349 such deaths have occured between 1998 and 2007. The following includes excerpts from the afforementioned report.
An examination of media reports about the 134 child vehicular hyperthermia deaths from 2004 through 2007 shows the following circumstances:
47% - child "forgotten" by caregiver
25% - child playing in unattended vehicle
21% - child intentionally left in vehicle by adult
7% - circumstances unknown
Could you try to imagine, for just a moment, what that must feel like? Does it make you want to vomit? Could you put yourself in the place of that 21 month old baby? Not old enough to free yourself from the carseat, yet old enough to feel your blood boiling, old enough to know that your caretaker has just closed that car door, and old enough to cry for that person to return, rescue you from the heat?
I know how cruel this particular story is. Unless you have no soul you are experiencing a visceral reaction to the very thought of a baby enduring this. However, I am not quite done making my point.
- Heatstroke occurs when a person's temperature exceeds 104 degrees F and their thermoregulatory mechanism is overwhelmed
▪ Symptoms include : dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizure, hot dry skin that is flushed but not sweaty, loss of consciousness, rapid heart beat, hallucinations
- A core body temperature of 107 degrees F is considered lethal as cells are damaged and internal organs shut down
- Children's thermoregulatory systems are not as efficient as an adult's and their bodies warm at a rate 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s.
Regardless of how inconvenient it may be to miss a day of work, or cancel a hair appointment, or to have to take all of the kids into the store...do it anyway. Don't let any more children die this tragic a needless death. If you know someone who leaves their kids in the car for any length of time, pass this on. A car can reach interior temperatures high enough to be fatal when it is a balmy 70 degrees farenheit outside. Don't be a bystander, exercise your ability to save a child.