To the editor:
On a hot day recently at a Lawrence shopping center, I chanced to park next to a car with the engine running but no driver inside. I was alarmed to see an unattended child in the backseat as well as a small dog. The parent was nowhere in sight. How could a parent leave their precious child and pet in the car to go shopping?
I immediately alerted security in a nearby store but they said they could do nothing except keep an eye on the car. Finally, the mother(?) returned to the car and drove to another location in the parking lot — same scenario — child and pet left in the car with engine running. I alerted security in a second store who, though concerned, indicated they could do nothing. After another ten minutes or so, the woman returned to the car and drove away.
This incident is troubling on so many levels. Children left unattended in cars can and do die of hyperthermia, injury by power windows, theft of the car with child inside, and other tragic incidents. A website on the subject http://www.kidsandcars.org/ indicates that only 19 states have specific laws pertaining to unattended children left in cars. Kansas is not one of them.
There were approximately 30 deaths by hyperthermia in the U.S. last year of unattended children left in cars. It should be a crime to intentionally leave an unattended child in a car. Kansas needs a “child in unattended vehicle” law in place that protects children.