A 1-year-old girl died Monday after she was left in a van outside an Omaha day care facility during record-breaking heat, officials said.
Officers found the unresponsive girl inside a van at Kidz of the Future Childcare around 3 p.m. She was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced deceased.
Police said they arrested 62-year-old van driver Ryan Williams on a charge of child abuse by neglect resulting in death.
Protesters gathered at the day care facility on Tuesday, CBS affiliate KMTV reported. They demanded accountability for the girl’s death.
Omaha is dealing with dangerous heat right now, weather officials said. Temperatures were in the 90s on Monday, with the heat index rising over 100. The National Weather Service had warned it could feel as hot as 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
Just two hours before the girl was found, Omaha’s fire department reminded residents to never leave children unattended in vehicles.
The girl’s death was the 19th hot car death this year, according to KidsandCars.org, a nonprofit that compiles that information. Around 38 children under the age of 15 die each year from heat stroke after being left in a car, according to the National Safety Council.
Temperatures inside a car can rise by almost 20 degrees within 10 minutes, even with a window left cracked open, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The temperature inside a vehicle is higher on a hot day than it is outside; an outside temperature of 70 degrees can result in a temperature above 100 degrees in a vehicle, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It’s especially dangerous for children, whose body temperatures rise three to five times faster than an adult’s.
The NHTSA and the CDC have shared safety tips for preventing hot car deaths. The agencies advise:
- Never leave a child in a vehicle unattended for any length of time, even if the windows are rolled down or the vehicle is parked in the shade.
- Check your entire vehicle before you lock the door and walk away.
- Keep a personal item, such as a purse, in the backseat so that you’ll check the rest of your vehicle before you leave and lock the car. Drivers can also write a note or place a stuffed animal in the front passenger’s seat as a visual reminder of a child in the backseat.
- If you see an unattended child alone in a locked car, call 911.
- Keep your car locked and store your keys in an area your child cannot reach so they can’t go inside a vehicle by themselves.
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