21 children have died in hot cars this year

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A toddler in east Dallas has become the 21st child to die in a hot car this year in the U.S., according to the national safety advocacy organization KidsAndCars.org.

That figure is nearly twice as high as the number of children who died by this time last year, the organization reports. When CNN last published a story June 9 about hot car deaths, 11 children had died this year by that time. That means that 10 more kids have died in a little over a single month this summer.

On Sunday afternoon, with temperatures in the 90s, the child’s father noticed that the boy wasn’t in his children’s Bible service class, according to CNN affiliate WFAA.

Reng Om, a member of the Dallas Matu Christian Church, told WFAA that the boy’s father went to his car, found the boy inside and carried him into the church, shouting that someone should dial 911.

Paramedics performed CPR and rushed the boy to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

On Friday, 4-year-old Samaria Motyka died in a car in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where the temperature rose to 97 degrees, according to the Lycoming County Coroner’s Office, which is conducting an autopsy.

A woman who takes care of the girl usually dropped her at daycare in the mornings but on Friday the woman drove to work, the affiliate said, citing officials’ account. At the end of the woman’s workday around 3:30 p.m., she returned to her car and found the girl unconscious, police told CNN affiliate WNEP.

Emergency responders tried to revive the child, who died at a hospital.

A stuffed animal can save your child’s life

There are typically two set of circumstances that lead to this kind of tragedy, said Jeanette Fennell, KidsAndCars.org founder and president. Children either climb into a car on their own or an adult leaves them in the car because that person is overly distracted and preoccupied with other things.

The organization urges parents and caretakers to read its safety tips that include looking in the backseat each time you get out of the car and putting something you need in your backseat — your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or briefcase — to ensure that you will check.

KidsAndCars also suggests leaving a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat and when the child is in the car seat, placing the stuffed animal in the passenger seat as a visual reminder to remove the child from the back when getting out of the car.

On average 37 children die every year from heat stroke in a vehicle, Fennell said.

The number of children who have lost their lives in hot cars has fluctuated every year since 1990 with the highest number — 49 — dying in 2010.

Eighty-seven percent of kids that die this way are age 3 and younger and the highest percentage are one year old, said Fennell.

“The biggest mistake people make is thinking that it can’t happen to them,” she said. “Everyone should practice those safety measures and do whatever they have to do to remind themselves to check the backseat.”