Murfreesboro Police responded to the Rutherford County Health Department (Murfreesboro) on Wednesday afternoon when a woman left two of her children outside in a hot car. The woman entered the facility with a baby in her arms and others in the lobby quickly learned that her other kids, both under the age of six, were sleeping in the car. Someone at the Health Department told the mother that she should not leave her kids outside in the hot car, but she refused to listen and said that no one can tell her what to do. That was when police were called.
When authorities arrived on the scene, the temperature outside was 91-degrees and the car was not running. Luckily, the children were not in the car long enough to suffer from a heat stroke. WGNS has since learned that the woman was not charged with any wrongdoing in leaving her children in the car.
According to the Tennessee Department of Health, every 10 days, a child dies from heatstroke in a vehicle nationwide. In Tennessee alone, 13-children died from heat related causes between 2005 and 2013. In 2012, a Smyrna mother left her two children ages 3 and 2 in her car while she went inside and fell asleep. Both children died and the mother was later found guilty of attempted aggravated child neglect. She was sentenced to 16-years behind bars and must serve 8 of those years before she is eligible for parole.
Other than car crashes, heatstroke is the No. 1 killer of children ages 14 and younger, according to SaferCar.gov. Last year, 44 kids died in hot cars, and at least three children have died so far in 2014.
A new law in Tennessee protects those who break into vehicles to rescue endangered children by granting immunity from paying damage costs in certain circumstances. The Tennessee General Assembly passed legislation in 2014 to entice the public to help children who may be trapped or left in vehicles and are at immediate risk of harm. Individuals who forcibly enter a vehicle in which a child is locked and in imminent danger are now protected from paying costs of damage to the vehicle if they have contacted authorities and have no other way to remove the child.
More on the deaths of children in Tennessee:
To read the TN Department of Children’s Services file information on deaths involving children, click here. These files outline the causes of death of 64 children in their most recent reporting year of 2012. The 3,600 pages outline how the children died in each case.
Smyrna Police Report:
At the Smyrna Police Department Officer Renzo would like to remind everyone not to keep our children or pets in cars this time of year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cars parked in direct sunlight can reach internal temperatures up to 131° F - 172° F (55° C – 78° C) when outside temperatures are 80° F – 100° F (27° C – 38° C).”27 Even outside temperatures in the 60s can cause a car temperature to rise well above 110° F. When the outside temperature is 83° F, even with the window rolled down 2 inches, the temperature inside the car can reach 109° F in only 15 minutes. Within the first 10 minutes the temperature in an enclosed vehicle will rise an average of 19 degrees or 82 percent of its eventual one hour rise.”28 In warm weather, a vehicle can warm to dangerous, life-threatening levels in only 10 minutes.
Unnamed witness at the Rutherford County Health Dept.
Tennessee Department of Health