Six Hundred children died over the past decade, after they were left along in a hot vehicle. Eight died in just the month of May.
So, on a 100 degree Heat Index day like today, it's as good a time to remind parents how quickly their vehicle can turn into a virtual oven. And how, in minutes, their children could suffer serious injury or death.
In a Special Report, Chief Investigator Carl Monday tells the story of Cleveland couple John and Leslie Tyson, and asks them the obvious question: "Why would they leave their child behind in their overheated vehicle....for nearly an hour and a half....while they worked out in the gym?"
June 4th, around 10a.m., the Tysons parked their SUV in rear lot of the Warrensville YMCA. After dropping off their three children at the "Y" daycare on the first floor, mom hit the pool. And dad returned to the vehicle for the workout bag he left behind.
But it wasn't just the bag that he forgot. Neither he nor his wife realized that their fourteen month old girl was still in the SUV. That's right. For more than an hour, Tyson hit the weight room and the mom continued to swim. While the infant remained strapped to a car seat. Doors unlocked. Windows barely cracked.
Fortunately, for everyone involved, a club member walked by the SUV and heard the baby crying and alerted the front desk. Someone called 9-1-1:
"9-1-1, What's your emergency?" Yes, I'm at the Warrensville YMCA and someone left a two year old...she appears to be no more than two years old in the truck."
Police arrived and removed the child from the vehicle. And went searching for the parents.
"It was a mistake. It shouldn't happen," the father said when questioned by Monday. "it was a mistake. It was an accident."
An accident that could have been a lot worse, if not for the unseasonably cool 70 degree temperatures that morning.
"On a hot day..when it's almost 85-90 degrees, temperatures inside a vehicle heat up about one degree a minute," says Dr. Alexandre Rotta, Chief of Pediatric Critical Care at Rainbow, Babies & Children's Hospital."
But even when the outside temp is only 75 degrees, the temp inside can quickly rise to over 100. A child could lapse into a coma, or experience seizures. A temperature at 107 degrees, according to the doctor, is "almost universally fatal."
"What if it had been 90 degrees?" Monday asked John Tyson. "I probably would have died right there," he answered. "It would have been a horrible situation because, whether it was an accident or not, it was a horrible situation."
Last year, a woman left her one, two and three year olds in a hot car while she shopped at the Steelyards Wal-Mart. A grandmother was in court just today, accused of leaving two toddlers in her car while she shopped at the Bedford Wal-Mart. Years back, a local dad forgot to drop his 9-month old off at the daycare, and went to work. The boy died in the back seat.
It's the same mistake John Tyson made. One he vows he'll never make again.
"I don't sleep. I check on her every night. Because I know I made a mistake."
"I'm very lucky."
The Tyson's have both pleaded "Not Guilty" to charges of Child Endangering.
730 North Summit Street