Girl Dies of Sunstroke When Left in Day Care Van


September 21, 2011

In Atlanta, 3 people were arrested this June for leaving a two-year-old girl in a day care van for nearly two hours when the temperature outside was in the mid 90's. The women responsible are being charged with cruelty to children, involuntary manslaughter, and reckless conduct. This is the second death of its kind to happen in the Atlanta area in less than a month. Another child, five months old, died after she was left in a hot car for five hours outside of a day care center in Kennesaw on May 25. The 21-year-old girl responsible is being charged for her death.

In 2011, there already have been fifteen children that have died as a result of being left in a hot vehicle. 49 children died of heat stroke after being left in hot vehicles last year, as well as 33 deaths in 2009. Since the year 1998, it is estimated that there have been 509 children who have died after being left in a car with exceedingly hot temperatures. This information comes from a report published by the Department of Geosciences at SFSU.

Surprisingly, the temperatures outdoors do not have to be that high to cause the temperature in the car to reach a life-threatening level. A number of incidents occurred on days when it was only in the 70's. Some of the children that died from vehicular hyperthermia (heat stroke) were between the ages of 5 and 14 years old. Half of them were under the age of 2 years old.

Heat stroke occurs when a person's temperature exceeds 104 degrees F and the body becomes unable to adequately cool itself. When a person gets heat stroke, they will exhibit certain signs including:

  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Dry skin but without being sweaty
  • Sluggishness
  • Accelerated heartbeat
  • Hallucinations
  • Loss of Consciousness

A person can die when their core body temperature reaches 107 degrees. Children's bodies are a bit different than adults so their core body temperature will actually increase about 3 to 5 times faster than an adult's temperature. This is why when a child is left in a car, it does not take a very long time for them to be in danger.

In the study done by SFSU they came up with conclusions on how much the temperature in a car can rise within certain elapsed times. It was astounding how dramatic these conclusions were and how cracking the windows of the car had little or no effect on how hot it got. Here are the conclusions:

  • 10 minutes - the temp. rose 19 deg. F
  • 20 minutes - the temp. rose 29 deg. F
  • 30 minutes - the temp. rose 34 deg. F
  • 60 minutes - the temp. rose 43 deg. F
  • 1 to 2 hours - temps. rose 45-50 deg F

When the researchers in the study examined the media reports around the 500 deaths over the thirteen year period, they were able to breakdown the causes of the incidents.

  • 51% of the children were "forgotten" by a caregiver
  • 30% were playing unattended in the vehicle
  • 17% were intentionally left in the vehicle by an adult
  • 1% the circumstances were not known

Life Saving Tips for Children's Safety

  • Do not ever leave your child in the car unattended even for a minute.
  • Call 9-1-1 if you see a child has been left in a vehicle unattended.
  • Double-check that when you get out of the car you are not leaving anyone behind.
  • Never allow your children to get a hold of your car keys.
  • Always leave your car doors and the trunk locked.

People can be forgetful, but this is never acceptable when it comes to the care of your child. Any caregiver, day care worker, babysitter or family friend may be liable for abuse and neglect of a child even if no appreciable harm comes to that child. These people may be at fault, and you can be entitled to compensation for your child's injuries or wrongful death.

If your child was injured while in the care of another person, you should speak to a Georgia injury attorney at Montlick & Associates to determine your rights to compensation for your child's injuries. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we have been assisting families whose children are injured by negligence for over 27 years. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia including, but not limited to, Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller and rural towns in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com.  No matter where you are located, we are just a phone call away and we will even come to you.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.