Why do children keep dying in hot cars?
The 9-year-old boy was “slobbering at the mouth” in a 94-degree car Monday when a Good Samaritan got to him, according to police in Cleveland Heights, Ohio.
When he was discovered around 1 p.m. in a Home Depot parking lot, the boy had been sitting in the sweltering black Nissan Altima in direct sun for 15 to 20 minutes, according to police. The heat index that day hit 94 degrees, FOX 8 reports.
“There's a kid in the car, all of the windows are up,” the Good Samaritan said in a 911 call, which was obtained by FOX. “I got the alarm going ’cause I opened the door.”
The 911 caller said he found the car's rear driver-side door unlocked when he tried to open it. He also said that, when the child was still in the car, he appeared upset and maybe even unconscious or sick, WKYC reports.
“I don't want to be standing here when the parents come out and I got his kid,” the caller told dispatchers.
The caller and boy waited for police to arrive, WKYC reports. Police found the boy with his hair drenched in sweat, and his face "extremely flushed.” The boy was autistic and seemed “confused about how to get out of the car," News 5 reports.
As police spoke to the boy, another officer went into the store looking for the child's guardian. Soon 65-year-old Paul Bayer, the boyfriend of the child’s mother, ran out of the home improvement store, according to police. Bayer was arrested on child endangerment charges. He apologized for the incident.
"Why did you leave him in the car again?," police asked Bayer in bodycam footage obtained by FOX.
"He got real quiet,” Bayer responded, FOX reports. “I forgot he was with me, I came here for a quick run and I forgot I had him."
The child was treated at the scene and his condition improved. Authorities then returned the child to his 36-year-old mother, News 5 reports. After he was booked, Bayer was released on bond, police said.
But before he was booked, Bayer may have had a heat incident of his own, police said: Bayer had to lie down in the backseat of the squad car, saying he needed a drink of water, Patch reports. Police said Bayer was flushed as well. Bayer eventually was able to sit upright, and was given water at the police station.
Bayer is a bankruptcy attorney, FOX reports.
Police said the incident is a reminder of the dangers of leaving children in hot cars — not to mention children with special needs.
“The body temperature of a child left in a hot car can rise within minutes and this can lead to serious injury and possibly death,” the Cleveland Heights Police Department wrote on Facebook.