Florida leads nation in 2023 hot car child deaths

One out of three children who died after being left in a hot car this year were in Florida
Florida raising awareness of hot car deaths
Published: Aug. 21, 2023 at 5:04 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 21, 2023 at 8:21 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV/Gray Florida Capital Bureau) - Florida is leading the nation with the number of children dying after being left in a hot car. Of the 18 deaths reported across the U.S. so far in 2023, six of those deaths happened in Florida.

“It’s a mistake that anyone can make,” Purposeful Beginnings Learning Center owner said Latonya Thompson.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said a child dies about every 10 days from heatstroke after being left in a car.

Nearly half the time, the child was left in the car when they were supposed to be dropped off at a daycare or preschool.

That was the case when 11-month-old Karohn Jean-Baptiste died in Tallahassee last year.

“That was a hard one. A lot of hurt, a lot of pain. It hurt not only myself but the staff as well. It was a horrible situation but it was an accident,” Thompson said.

Karohn’s parents took him to Purposeful Beginnings Learning Center. Thompson said it takes a village to help keep kids safe.

“You can imagine, no parent would ever be the same again after an accident such as this. What we have to do is help each other, be accountability partners,” Thompson said.

Shevaun Harris, secretary for the Florida Department of Children and Families, said steps you think you’re taking to help prevent these deaths like cracking your window, parking under a tree, or using a sunshade isn’t enough to prevent death.

“I think most parents don’t think this can happen. It’s inconceivable. I think making it real that this can happen to anyone is the key,” Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary Shevaun Harris.

She emphasized the importance of checking, even “triple checking,” before getting out of a car.

Florida ranks second in the total number of hot car deaths since 1998, with Texas being the only state with more deaths reported.

The Florida Department of Children and Families encourages people who see a child left unattended in a car to call 911. Florida law also allows someone to break into a car if they see a child, vulnerable adult or pet left inside.