In Charleston, West Virginia, a police officer has been charged after leaving his children in a hot car for 25 minutes, reported Fox 11.
The incident occurred on Sunday when officer Daniel Goffreda, 32, of Poca, left his 2- and 5-year-old sons in the car in a Kroger parking lot located on Big Tyler Road in the Cross Lanes area. The boys were found buckled into their car seats and “sweating profusely.”
A deputy arrived on the scene and eventually busted the window to remove the children from the car. At the time of their removal, the temperature was reportedly about 84 degrees with 67 percent humidity. Before breaking the window, the deputy reportedly knocked on the glass to get the older boy’s attention and to shout at him to open the door. However, the boy mouthed back what the deputy believed to be “I don’t know how.”
Kanawha County Ambulance Authority personnel arrived at the scene and the boys were removed from the vehicle and placed securely into an ambulance. The report stated that the children were dressed in T-shirts, shorts, and sneakers, and that their clothes were “wet to the touch” from what was assumed to be sweat.
Goffreda has been charged with two counts of child neglect creating risk of injury after a complaint was filed at the Kanawha County Magistrate Court. The Charleston Police Department confirmed that he is on “paid administrative leave pending an internal investigation.”
The news outlet reported that they are uncertain as to whether Goffreda has a lawyer who can comment on the charges.
CNN published a report this summer from safety organization Kids and Cars about the ongoing problem of children being left in hot cars. The organization reports that an average of 37 children die each year from vehicular heatstroke. These tragic accidents often happen because of a lapse in temporal memory or a disrupted routine, such as in the case of a 1-year-old child in Tennessee who died this past May after her father forgot to drop her off at daycare before departing on a business trip.
CNN also reported that statistics show that most vehicular heatstroke deaths (87 percent) occur in children under the age of 3. Kids and Cars researchers believe that this is often due to a young child being seated in a rear-facing car seat and/or their inability to communicate.
Website Safe Kids pointed out some important things to know about vehicular heatstroke in order to prevent it. First and foremost, caretakers should avoid leaving a child alone in a car. The site also recommends keeping car doors locked in order to prevent children from entering the vehicle and potentially locking themselves in. It can also be a good idea to leave reminders next to the child’s car seat after buckling them in, such as a phone or purse.
Finally, the site urges anyone who sees a child alone in a vehicle to take action. They advise calling 911 or contacting a local emergency number immediately.