Two children were sent to St. Francis Medical Center in Lynnwood, California after being rescued from their locked vehicle. A concerned citizen was officially thanked by the LAPD after reporting seeing the children locked in a car in 92 degree weather. The temperature inside a car is up to 15 degrees hotter than the outside temperature, making it extremely dangerous to leave people or pets inside. When police arrived, they were able to unlock the back door through a slightly open window. The brother and sister, aged one and two, were kept in the air-conditioned police car until paramedics arrived at the scene.
The children’s mother, 18-year-old A.A., was arrested for child endangerment and could be charged with a felony. Each year, children die in situations just like this one. In one case, a child died when the outside temperature was only 81 degrees. Since 1998, over 550 children have been killed because they were in hot vehicles. In approximately half of these cases, the child’s caregiver forgot that they were in the car. In 30% of the cases, the child was playing the car without supervision. In the other cases, an adult purposefully let the child in the vehicle.
Hyperthermia is defined as a high body temperature that occurs when the person is unable to cool down as fast as they are heating up. This is basically the opposite of hypothermia, where the victim dies from a core temperature which is too low. Hyperthermia is defined as a medical emergency and the victim could be left with permanent disabilities or even die as a result. Although this condition can result from other causes, such as a side effect to a drug, it usually is the result of heat stroke. Vehicular hyperthermia occurs when a person’s temperature rises while being inside a vehicle. Children are particularly at risk because they are not able to get out of the car on their own and their body temperature rises at approximately three times the rate of adults.
As A.A. left her two children in the car when the outside temperature was 92 degrees, they were highly at risk of vehicular hyperthermia. According to California Penal Code §270.3 (2011), child endangerment is defined as putting a child in a situation which is likely to bring about injury or suffering. If she is convicted of this offense, she could be put in state prison for two, four, or six years. If she is granted probation, there will be a minimum period of 48 months in which she will have to attend child abuser’s treatment counseling and may have a stay-away order from her children. For more information on child endangerment and other forms of child abuse, please contact our team at Martinian & Associates today!