What to do if you see a child left in a car on a hot NJ day
It’s the second half of May. Memorial Day weekend is days away. The weather will be getting hotter.
This is the time of year in places like New Jersey that the group Kids and Car Safety dread.
More than 38 small children are left to die every year in hot cars in the United States. Mostly by accident.
A change of routine. A distraction in an already chaotic life for a parent. These can and do lead to tragic results.
Here in New Jersey, 10 children died between 2003 and 2008 from being trapped in a hot car.
If you saw a young child left alone in a hot vehicle, what would you do?
Many would hesitate in calling police because they assume the parent will be back in one minute and they don’t want to get them in deep trouble. A number of people I asked said they would stand near the car and just keep an eye on things for several minutes before deciding on their next step.
Kids and Car Safety says that’s the wrong move.
What should you do? Here’s a new PSA they just put out. Watch this and ask yourself if you would react this way.
Could you do it? Call 911 immediately? Break a window of a car that’s not yours to pull out a child who is a stranger to you?
It’s asking a lot. Some states have good Samaritan laws protecting people who rescue a child this way from civil lawsuits. Alabama, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Florida and many other states have such a law. To the best of my knowledge, no such law exists in New Jersey but a bill was proposed in the Assembly seven years ago.
As far as how a parent can forget a child left behind in a hot car, Kids and Car Safety says it absolutely happens to good parents who get distracted. They put out this other PSA to warn all us parents it can happen to any one of us.
It happened here in a notable case in Lakewood in 2019. It was early May when Chaya Shurkin accidentally left her 21-month-old daughter in a car for two and a half hours. The air temperature was only around 70 degrees but the interior of the car grew much hotter. The child died.
She was sentenced to probation. At the time Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley Billhimer said,
“It should be noted that recommendation for probation is consistent with the manner in which the majority of these dreadful types of cases have been handled in Ocean County, as well as throughout this state and nation, and it represents an acknowledgment that the loss of a child - under these horrific circumstances – is tantamount to a life-sentence in and of itself.”
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski only.
You can now listen to Deminski & Doyle — On Demand! Hear New Jersey’s favorite afternoon radio show any day of the week. Download the Deminski & Doyle show wherever you get podcasts, on our free app, or listen right now.