Two children were found dead in hot cars just hours apart in central Florida on Friday.
The Orlando Sentinel reported that a 4-year-old boy died after he was left in a hot car outside a school in Orange County.
A bystander spotted the child alone in a locked vehicle about 2:30 p.m. and brought him to a fire station across the street. Firefighters brought the boy to a hospital but he was unfortunately declared dead.
Orange County Sheriff’s spokesman Jeff Williamson said that the child was likely in the vehicle for some time. He said that the incident was likely an accident.
“We do seminars on it, the mayor’s office, the sheriff’s office do seminars, there are triggers and mechanisms in place to help you remember that a child is left in a car,” Williamson said. “It’s always sad, it’s always accidental and it’s always tragic.”
A similar tragic incident happened just two hours later. The Seminole County Sheriff’s Office said that a baby girl was found dead inside a hot SUV outside a gas station near Sanford City.
The child’s mother went to work in the morning and appeared to have forgotten that her 1-year-old daughter was in the car.
Seminole County Fire Rescue responded about 4:50 p.m. but the baby was no longer conscious and breathing when she was found. Officials declared the girl dead at the scene.
According to the nonprofit child safety organization Kids and Cars, an average of 37 children die per year in hot cars. These instances occur when children are forgotten in the vehicle, accidentally lock themselves in a car or trunk, or when they are intentionally left in the vehicle.
Lorrie Walker, from the advocacy group Safe Kids Worldwide, said that these tragedies more often happen because of miscommunication, an overloaded schedule, and absent-mindedness.
“Parents don’t necessarily do this on purpose, or because they’re not a good parent,” Walker said in a 2017 interview with Health. “It’s really easy to point fingers and say these are terrible people, and they’re not. This is just a failure of circumstance that leads to the horrendous and horrific death of their child.”
Warning devices are available to prevent these incidents from happening, but not everyone uses them. Walker suggested that parents leave something important in the backseat with their child, such as a bag, cellphone or purse, so they would have an incentive to open the back door when they arrive at their destination.