A toddler who was left inside a car in the parking lot of a South Florida preschool died after reportedly being left inside the sweltering vehicle for hours, police said.
The child, 3, was reportedly one of several children from the same family who attended Lubavitch Educational Center in Miami Gardens where both his parents worked, the Miami Herald reported.
Temperatures on Monday reached 93 degrees outside, while the heat index reached up to 103. Officials expect that the temperatures inside the parked car exceeded that outside.
The father reportedly discovered his unresponsive child inside the car after he’d been informed at about 3pm that his son hadn’t been seen all day.
The 3-year-old was rushed to hospital when he was found inside the stifling hot vehicle, but was pronounced dead upon arrival.
The Herald reported that the child’s father was being interviewed by police late Monday and they suspect that he mistakenly forgot his son inside the car when he arrived at work that morning.
“This tragedy hits close to home, and many in our school community have been affected by it. No words can capture the heartbreak and sadness we feel,” Rabbi Benzion Korf, the center’s dean, said in a short statement issued late Monday, according to the Associated Press.
Rabbi Korf told the news agency that a therapist and grief counselor had been made available for staff and students at the center on Tuesday.
The Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner later confirmed to NBC 6 that the deceased boy was identified as Sholom Tauber, and confirmed to the news outlet that his cause of death was hyperthermia, or an overheated body, and classified his death as an accident.
On average, 37 children die each year in the US from heatstroke caused by being left inside cars.
So far in 2022, there have been 10 adolescent fatalities in the country from heatstroke brought on from being left inside of a car, most of whom had been unknowingly left inside the car, according to NoHeatStroke.org.
For temperatures to reach a fatal level for children inside a closed vehicle, it can take as little as an hour, a study from Consumer Reports found.
“CR testing found that even when it was 61° F outside, the temperature inside a closed car reached more than 105° F in just 1 hour, an extremely dangerous and potentially fatal level for a child,” CR reported last month.
“Children should never be left unattended in a car for even a short period of time,” Jennifer Stockburger, director of operations at CR’s Auto Test Center, said in the study. “Even when it’s not that hot outside, our test results show how quickly temperatures inside the car escalate, regardless of whether your car is light or dark.”
Experts advise caretakers they should avoid leaving their children in vehicles unattended. NoHeatStroke.org and KidsandCars.org both advise having a plan in place so as to avoid this deadly accident, as a majority of the incidents are caused by caretakers unknowingly leaving their kids behind in the car.
One safety tip they suggest is leaving your briefcase or cell phone in the backseat, so as to act as a reminder to check the back before leaving for the car, or creating a “look before you leave” a routine whenever you get out of the car.
For parents with kids in daycare or school, they suggest having a plan in place with your childcare provider to place a call as soon as your child doesn’t show up for attendance.