Experts: Heat-related incidents with kids in cars is common - WSMV Channel 4

Experts: Heat-related incidents with kids in cars can happen to anyone

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

It has been a difficult day for a Nashville family mourning the loss of a 5-month-old child left alone in the back of a minivan.

Samantha Gray told officers she thought her infant was at daycare the entire time, but the young boy likely died from heat-related symptoms inside the vehicle.

It's a tragedy that experts say is more common than you may think, and the child was the third to die in a car in Middle Tennessee in less than a week.

The unbearable heat and a nearly empty parking lot were grim reminders Wednesday that the Donelson Heights United Methodist Church daycare is closed in mourning following the child's death in the parking lot.

"It makes me feel so sad, because I feel like it's my baby. I'm so sad for her," said daycare mother Jovita Rosas.

Rosas doesn't know Stephanie Gray, but the mother of three was watching helplessly as Metro police answered the horrifying call to the daycare. It was around 2:30 p.m. when Gray arrived to the church, thinking she'd dropped off her baby boy, Joel, earlier in the day.

But, instead, police said the 38-year-old licensed attorney found the child's lifeless body inside his car seat. Gray was so distraught she was later treated at an area hospital.

"There are some things you can do to remind yourself, especially on days when it's hot outside, to check," said Brian Todd, with the Metro Health Department.

Todd said nearly two dozen children have died nationwide in heat-related incidents involving vehicles this year. Five of those have been in Tennessee alone.

Last week, a Smyrna woman was charged with two counts of especially aggravated child abuse after her 3-year-old and 2-year-old children were found dead in her car on a hot day. Police said she claimed she was inside the house asleep at the time.

Todd said, sadly, this kind of death can happen to any parent. He suggests parents consider some memory tricks to make sure they know when their child is in the back seat of their car.

First, he said to keep your purse or briefcase on the back floor of the vehicle. Also, he suggested leaving your house or office keys in the back of the car, so that you won't even be able to get inside your home or office without first looking into the back.

Some parents even attach additional mirrors inside cars as a reminder to check.

For a list of more safety tips, visit: http://www.kidsandcars.org/userfiles/dangers/heat-stroke/heat-stroke-safety-tips.pdf.

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