18 States with Child Fatalities from Heatstroke in Cars

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Joel Ohman
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UPDATED: Oct 14, 2019

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Summertime is typically associated with good times, vacations, and fun activities. However, the same warm weather that allows us to enjoy these activities also can pose a dangerous threat in the form of heatstroke.

Summer may be coming to a close, but heatstroke is still a threat to many Americans. This fall is predicted to be warmer than average, posing a great risk to people who might think the worst of the hot weather has passed.

Leaving infants, children, or animals in cars, even in moderate weather, poses a risk for heatstroke. A car left in the heat becomes like a greenhouse — trapping heat and raising temperatures drastically.

What is heatstroke?


A heat stroke is a form of hypothermia that dramatically elevates the body’s temperature. The people most at risk are infants, elderly, athletes, and outdoor workers.

Heatstroke requires immediate emergency care — the potential damage worsens the longer treatment is delayed. Untreated heatstroke can quickly damage the brain, heart, kidneys, and muscles.

Heatstroke occurs when your body temperature rises above 104° F (40° C). Children are especially prone to heat stroke because their bodies heat up to three to five times faster than an adult’s.

According to Jan Null, a San Francisco State University professor, children have died in cars with temperatures as low as 63°. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a car parked in direct sunlight in outside temperatures of 80° to 100°, can quickly heat to 130° to 172°.

You may think your child is not at risk for just a few minutes, but this infographic shows how quickly temperatures in a car can escalate.

  • Outside – 70°; Inside 10 mins – feels like 89°; Inside 30 mins –feels like 104°
  • Outside – 80°; Inside 10 mins –feels like 99°; Inside 30 mins –feels like 114°
  • Outside – 90°; Inside 10 mins –feels like 109°; Inside 30 mins –feels like 124°

There are 18 states in the U.S. that have experienced child fatalities due to car-induced heat stroke already in 2017, collectively totaling 32 deaths. Our hope is to raise awareness about this serious matter and spotlight laws that could help us prevent these tragedies, as well as safety tips you can follow to help protect you and your loved ones from the threat of heat stroke.


We conducted our study based on information found on NoHeatStroke.org. Our study focuses on the following three categories:

  • Total Number of Child Fatalities
  • Average Temperature (F) at the time of child fatalities
  • Average Age of Children (in months)

Over the span of the last three years (2015 to 2017), there have been 28 U.S. states that have experienced car-induced child heat stroke fatalities. For comparison, we’ve compiled this information for all three years here.

18 States with Child Fatalities from Heatstroke in Cars

We hope that by bringing these unfortunate facts to light, we can raise awareness of the catastrophic danger of heatstroke, especially for children.

Consider contacting your local state representative and encourage them to take actionable steps to prevent heatstroke fatalities in your state.

#18 – Wyoming

Total Child Fatalities: 1
Average Temperature: 84° F

On July 27, 2017, a four-month-old baby left in a car seat for about 10 hours died of extreme dehydration and heat stroke. The mother was at work and had forgotten to drop the baby off at daycare. This is Wyoming’s only heat stroke induced child fatality in the past three years; hopefully, it remains that way.

#17 – West Virginia

Total Child Fatalities: 1
Average Temperature: 84° F

On April 5, 2017, a 65-year-old great grandmother, Carolyn Davis, left her 19-month-old great-grandson, Abel Stephens, in a car in an open field with no shade outside her house for at least seven hours.

#16 – Ohio

Total Child Fatalities: 1
Average Temperature: 80° F

On August 23, 2017, a 15-month-old passed away due to a heat stroke.

#15 – New Mexico

Total Child Fatalities: 1
Average Temperature: 93° F

On July 25, 2017, toddlers Maliyah Jones and Aubrianna Loya were forgotten in a car by their two daycare workers, Mary Taylor and Sandi Taylor. The toddlers were not discovered until an hour and a half later. Maliyah Jones died at a hospital later that day, while Aubrianna Loya remains hospitalized in critical condition.

#14 – Utah

Total Child Fatalities: 1
Average Temperature: 105° F

What should have been a joyous family gathering turned into tragedy on June 24, 2017. The Royal family gathered for a family reunion in St. George, when an estimated six hours later, the family noticed that two-year-old Abraham was missing. He was found in the family van by his father. It was suspected that two-year-old Abraham Royal fell asleep and was left in the van.

#13 – Arkansas

Total Child Fatalities: 1
Average Temperature: 88° F

On June 12, 2015, five-year-old Christopher Gardner was left strapped inside a health services van for eight hours by his daycare workers. He passed away in the hospital the following day.

#12 – South Carolina

Total Child Fatalities: 1
Average Temperature: 91° F

On July 19, 2017, one-year-old Mekhi Rembert was left in the car by his mother for an indeterminable amount of time. Mekhi was found by police but eventually passed away in the hospital the same day.

South Carolina ranks 22nd in the nation in these preventable tragedies with 12 fatalities from 1994 to 2015. South Carolina had one other child fatality during our three-year span in 2015.

#11 – Nevada

Total Child Fatalities: 1
Average Temperature: 114° F

On July 15, 2017, another devastating child fatality occurred at a family getaway. The days surrounding this incident had temperatures in the triple digits.

In Nevada, three-year-old Chase Lee was left in the car at his family’s large get-together in Las Vegas. Unfortunately, by the time the parents realized what had happened, too much time had elapsed.

#10 –  North Carolina

Total Child Fatalities: 1
Average Temperature: 90° F

On July 1, 2017, a three-year-old girl was found unresponsive in a minivan outside her family’s home. The child’s identity remains anonymous.

Police have not yet released the specific details of her deathNorth Carolina ranks #6 in the country for the number of deaths since 1991. In the past three years (2015 to 2017), there have been four child fatalities in NC due to heatstroke in cars.

#9 – Oklahoma

Total Child Fatalities: 1
Average Temperature: 86° F

On August 4, 2017, four-month-old Presley Walker was found dead in the back seat of her grandmother’s SUV in Luther, Oklahoma. Her grandmother had forgotten to drop her off at daycare and left her in the car all day at work. In the past three years, Oklahoma had four total child fatalities due to heatstroke in cars.

#8 – Louisiana

Total Child Fatalities: 1
Average Temperature: 92° F

On March 28, 2017, Addyson Bertrand was found by the police in her mother’s car outside the Heritage Manor Nursing Home, where her mother worked. It is unclear how long three-year-old Addyson was in the car and who made the discovery. In the past three years, Louisiana experienced five child fatalities due to heatstroke in a car.

#7 – Tennessee

Total Child Fatalities: 2
Average Temperature: 90.5° F

Tennessee witnessed two child heatstroke fatalities within a week. On July 8, 2017, 11 month-old Kiara McCullough and her two siblings were left in the car outside her father’s workplace in Chattanooga. Temperatures that day well exceeded 80°.

Kiara passed away and her two siblings were hospitalized. The investigation revealed a pattern of neglect towards the children even prior to the tragic incident.

The second incident happened on July 14th, six days later, when two-year-old Kipp Phillips was found in the car after he had been left there overnight.

#6 – Idaho

Total Child Fatalities: 2
Average Temperature: 80° F

Idaho has had three total child fatalities in the past three years — two of them occurred this year. First, on May 20, 2017, Haven Hackworth left his five-month-old daughter Kyrae Vineyard in a parked car outside a car dealership in Caldwell, Idaho.

Second, on June 23, 2017, police responded to a call that a baby was not breathing. Ten month-old Natalie Ross was found unresponsive, having been left unattended inside a parked vehicle for several hours.

#5 – Alabama

Total Child Fatalities: 3
Average Temperature: 81.7° F

Two tragic child fatalities happened in Alabama within days of each other. First, on March 29, 2017 in Carbon Hill, 14-month-old Guiliana Susan Grace Ramirez was left in the car for an extended period of time by her mother.

Second, on April 7, 2017, another tragedy, one-year-old Christian Evan Sanders was forgotten and left in his father’s truck while his father was at work.

Another incident occurred just recently in Mobile on August 21, 2017. The temperature was 93° F outside.

#4 – Georgia

Total Child Fatalities: 2
Average Temperature: 95° F

In Georgia on June 15, 2017, one-year-old Skylar Fowler was left in the car with the air-conditioning on while her mother was getting her hair done — the hair appointment was six hours. During that time, the car shut off.

Dijanelle Fowler, the mother, waited several hours before driving to a hospital, where Skylar was found dead inside the car in the hospital parking deck.

On July 28th, a few days later, three-year-old Jakob Eli Camacho was left alone at home by his mother while she went to several businesses in town. The boy was later found unresponsive after being locked inside a hot car parked at the family’s home.

Since 1995, 34 children have died in hot cars in Georgia, two more than this year’s total so far.

#3 – Arizona

Total Child Fatalities: 2
Average Temperature: 102° F

In Phoenix, two children died within 24 hours of each other. On July 28th, seven-month-old Zane Endress died after he had been left in the northeast part of the city for four hours; it was 101° that day.

The following day, July 29th, temperatures reached 103 degrees. One-year-old Josiah Riggins was forgotten by his father in the car and died in the church parking lot. Arizona has one of the nation’s worst rates of child deaths in hot cars at 18.1 per one million people.

#2 – Florida

Total Child Fatalities: 6
Average Temperature: 88.8° F

Florida has had six children die in hot cars this year so far — two in February, two in July, and two in August.

On February 6, 2017, one-year-old Samuel Schnall was forgotten outside a family home for over an hour.

On February 28th, two-year-old Jacob Manchego was left in the car for around four hours by his half-sister while she was at work.

On July 2, 2017, seven-week-old Timothy Christopher McCoy was left in his grandmother’s van for around eight hours. Due to miscommunication, his grandmother did not realize he was there.

On July 15, 2017, 23-month-old Khayden Saint Sauveur was found around 3:20 pm in his dad’s car. The length of time he was in the car remains unknown.

On August 7, 2017, three-year-old Miles K. Hill was left in his daycare’s van in Orlando by the driver, for the length of the daycare’s work day. The driver, Deborah St. Charles did not follow Florida Administrative Code for child care facilities.

Last, on August 18, 2017, a three-year old passed away in Pensacola. The temperature was 95° F outside.

#1 — Texas

Total Child Fatalities: 7
Average Temperature: 92.1° F

Texas has already had seven child fatalities due to heatstroke in cars — the most so far this year. In April, Kingston Jackson (23-month-old) was unintentionally left in his parents’ vehicle in Burleson for nearly five hours when both parents had thought the other had taken Kingston out of the car.

On May 26, 2017, two siblings were left in the car by their mother to teach them a lesson. The mother, Cynthia Marie Randolph, fell asleep and her children, Juliet and Cavanaugh Ramirez, died in the hot car.

On June 7, 2017, 19-year-old Amanda Hawkins left her two girls, Brynn Hawkins and Addyson Overgard-Eddy overnight in the car for 15 hours.

On June 23rd in Fort Worth, three-year-old Keandre Goodman was playing with other children in the yard when he decided to get into a broken-down car; he was in there for at least 45 minutes.

The same day in Houston, a change in routine and miscommunication between daycare provider and parents caused the unfortunate death of seven-month-old Justin Huynh.

New Laws Designed to Help

Numerous factors contribute to the staggering number of heat stroke fatalities among children. To treat heatstroke watch the video above but there’s also been some new legislation to help battle this issue.

According to a study conducted by NoHeatStroke.org that examined 700 child vehicular heatstroke deaths over a 19-year-period (1998 to 2016), these reasons included:

  • 54 percent Child forgotten by caregiver (376 children)
  • 28 percent – Child playing in unattended vehicle (198 children)
  • 17 percent – Child intentionally left in vehicle by adult (120 children)
  • One percent – Circumstances unknown (six children)

Fortunately, there have been laws implemented to prevent these tragic situations from reoccurring. U.S. Congress members pushed for a bill called the Helping Overcome Trauma for Children Alone in Rear Seats (HOT CARS) Act of 2017.

The HOT CARS Act would require carmakers to fit new vehicles with technology that alerts the driver if there are still passengers in the car after the car has been turned off.

This kind of technology already exists. For example, General Motors has already released some 2017 models that have a “Rear Seat Reminder” feature.

Currently, only 19 states in the U.S. have laws that specifically make it illegal to leave a child unattended in a car. There are states, like Colorado, that have passed laws granting legal immunity to those who break into a car to save a child or a pet in danger.

Other laws like Hot Car Laws or Good Samaritan Laws protect bystanders who take action to rescue a child or pet in distress.

8 Safety Tips to Avoid Heat-related Child Harm

If you are a parent or guardian, here are some tips to further ensure your child(ren)’s safety:
Never leave a child unattended in a car — not even for a minute. Don’t even allow your children to think it’s okay to play in a car unsupervised.

  1. Create cell-phone reminders to remind you to get your children safely to their destination.
  2. Check the car to make sure all occupants have left the vehicle.
  3. Lock the car door with your key. This way you will face the car and can look inside, rather than clicking a remote as you walk away.
  4. Always lock your car and keep car keys and remotes away from children.
  5. When a child is not in their car seat, put a stuffed animal in their place; when you put the stuffed animal in the front passenger seat beside you, it will remind you that a child is still in the car seat.
  6. Place something in the backseat that you will need to look for before you leave the car. For example, your purse, cell phone, briefcase, or lunchbox.
  7. Have your child care provider call you if your child does not show up.
  8. If you see a child alone in a car, especially hot and distressed, take action and immediately call 911.

The safety of family, loved ones, and neighbors should be our primary concern!

Complete Rankings: States with Fatalities by Heatstroke

– Click here for the full stats and sources for each category. For all media inquiries, please email: Josh Barnes

05/11/2015Lake CityFL9116
06/01/2015Hiland ParkFL8218
06/04/2015Baton RougeLA9222
06/10/2015Spirit LakeID8436
07/23/2015Hot SpringsAR10118
08/26/2015Las VegasNV10048
08/28/2015Del CityOK915
09/07/2015Corpus ChristiTX894
06/07/2016Baton RougeLA918
06/10/2016Des MoinesIA916
06/17/2016Bossier CityLA9336
06/17/2016Bossier CityLA9336
07/14/2016Ft. PierceFL9024
07/22/2016Rocky ComfortMO9524
09/08/2016Palm HarborFL9223
03/27/2017Ville PlatteLA9236
03/28/2017Carbon HillAL8414
04/04/2017Pt. PleasantWV8419
06/11/2017West MemphisAR8872
06/22/2017Twin FallsID8510
06/22/2017Ft. WorthTX10136
06/23/2017St. GeorgeUT10524
07/01/2017Mary EsterFL891
07/14/2017Las VegasNV11436
07/14/2017Delray BeachFL8423

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