A 21-year-old Belarusian woman died after her toddler accidentally rolled up her car’s automatic window onto her neck, asphyxiating her, The Sun reports.
Yulia Sharkom, of Žabinka, was celebrating her 21st birthday with friends in Staroe Selo on August 31 when the accident occurred. Yulia was leaning into the BMW E34 through the window, trying to extricate her 2-year-old daughter from the car seat. The child accidentally pressed a button activating the car window, rolling it up and trapping the mother in the process.
Some time later, her husband found her lifeless body, head still stuck between the window and the car’s frame. He was able to extricate her, and called emergency services for help, but it was too late.
She was taken to a hospital and clung to life for eight days, but ultimately died of asphyxia leading to brain damage.
“Her brain suffered irreversibly due to clamped arteries,” said a local news report of the incident.
Automatic car windows have been a thing for decades, and indeed, rare is the new car that still has a manually-operated window. Some models have what is called an “express switch,” where a single motion — which is to say, moving the switch up or down — will cause the window to roll all the way up or all the way down, respectively. Nowadays, other car windows require the user to maintain pressure on the switch until the window is fully rolled up or down.
Whether rolled up by an express switch or by maintaining pressure on the switch, car windows can still pack a lot of punch. They can close with up to 30-80 pounds of force, according to Kids and Cars, more than enough to crush a small child’s neck.
Some models, according to Your Mechanic, have a sensor built in that detects when an object is in the way. If, for example, a user-activated an express switch, and a sensor detected an object preventing the window from rolling up — say, a human hand — the process would reverse and the window will roll back down.
Safety mechanisms aside, power windows have accounted for thousands of injuries and deaths over the decades, the vast majority of them affecting children. Broken fingers and broken bones in the hands are the most common type of injury, but at least 50 infants and children have been killed by the mechanisms over the years. It’s unclear how many adults have been killed by these mechanisms over the decades.
In April 2018, as The Inquisitr reported at the time, a mishap involving a car window at a drive-through safari park resulted in a giraffe’s neck being trapped. In a video that went viral, the animal smashed the car’s window in a bid to escape.