On Friday, the city of Phoenix suffered a devastating tragedy when a 7-month-old child died in an unattended car. The next day, the city’s grief compounded when a 1-year-old died in another unattended vehicle, according to The New York Daily News.
Saturday’s incident brought tears to bystanders who were attending the same church where the vehicle was left unattended with the child inside. The father drove his boy to church and then forgot about him, according to police.
“It’s shocking, devastating, just sad,” said Zettica Mitchell, relative of 1-year-old Josiah Riggins. “You feel like it’s something that could happen to anybody.”
It is believed that both tragedies were caused by accidents. But local police are investigating the incidents to determine whether an arrest is warranted.
“Our initial investigation is saying that the father forgot the baby was in the car,” said Sergeant Mercedes Fortune, speaking about Saturday’s incident. “The child was unresponsive and had been left in the vehicle for several hours.”
She added, “Everyone is cooperative. … It’s the death of a child. It’s a tragedy.”
Friday’s tragedy involved a 7-month-old boy named Zane Endress who was left alone in the car during temperatures that had soared into triple digits. An extended period of time elapsed. The baby’s aunt and her boyfriend had been babysitting the child and had, like Riggins’ father, forgotten him.
“We hear that parents are saying they forgot their babies in their vehicles,” said Sergeant Fortune. “Take some time, again, to look inside your vehicle … to just avoid these tragedies.”
The Washington Post reports that since 1998 more than 700 young children have died in hot cars. Congressman Tim Ryan said his ambition is to put an end to these traumas.
“Anybody who has kids looks at this as a complete tragedy that doesn’t need to happen,” Ryan told the Capital Weather Gang. “There’s no reason we can’t have a quick fix. Every year we wait we lose more and more lives.”
Last month Ryan introduced the HOT CARS Act of 2017, joined by cosponsors Peter T. King and Jan Schakowsky. The purpose of the bill would require cars to come equipped with a system for alerting the driver if a child is left in the back seat after the car is turned off. The technology, said Ryan, already exists, and that General Motors has installed it in many of their 2017 and 2018 models.
The cost of implementation? “Very, very small,” said Ryan – compared to the cost of finding one’s child unresponsive upon returning to the car.
Read up on a boy who believes he’s found a way to eliminate infant car deaths for good.