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Archive for Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Letter: Law needed

July 10, 2013

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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.

Comments

Bob Forer 9 months, 2 weeks ago

We already have a law against what the writer described. Its called Endangerment of a Child.

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kernal 9 months, 2 weeks ago

As for the personnel in the stores, you could have called 911 if the writer of this letter didn't have a cell phone with her.

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bearded_gnome 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Judith! what god is a letter to the editor?

as Did-I-Say-That noted above, child endangerment is already illegal in Kansas. it is also illegal to leave a dog in such a vehicle on a hot day.

why didn't you dial 9-1-1? turn in the license of the car, you obviously had oodles of time to note the tag, and get description of the driver.

"there oughta be a law" doesn't make sense all the time.

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Richard Heckler 9 months, 2 weeks ago

A 911 call could have resolved this issue. The parent would likely have received a summons then likely never do it again. What is the ordinance regarding this issue?

The AC likely was on. The only danger might be the car engine becoming over heated..... then what.

Maybe the car was locked so a stranger getting in would not be easy ...... maybe the dog would have chewed a strangers arm or hand off.

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milesmama 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I agree phoning the police is good, but Judith was trying to help.

Judith, I agree! Can you go to the city commission about this?

Yes, maybe the AC was on and heat was not a danger, but what about someone getting into that unlocked car and driving off with the child? A horrible thing happened in Independence in this scenario about 12 years ago and since then, I have my keys in my hand at all times, even in my driveway. Speaking of driveways, neighbors, please lock your unattended cars in this heat. Children can climb in to play and be unable to get out. Read kidsandcars.org for more safety tips.

Bravo to you Judith for speaking up. A lazy parent like that is probably negligent in other respects.

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Leslie Swearingen 9 months, 2 weeks ago

I'll bet the mother left the car running to keep the air conditioning on for the child and the dog. We don't know what was going on, it could very well be a perfectly innocent situation.

Also, people please phone the police when you see something that you believe merits their attention. Or maybe the police should start reading letters to the editor in which case the letter is going to have to have a lot more information.

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Terry Lee 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Why wouldn't you call 911 instead of a rent-a-cop? Especially after it didn't work the first time. Seems like a no-brainer....

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friendlyjhawk 9 months, 2 weeks ago

What is wrong here? Not calling 911 yourself is what is wrong. You want to point fingers but you didn't take direct action. A letter to LJW doesn't help the police or the unfortunate situation the child and the dog were in.

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Benjamin Roberts 9 months, 2 weeks ago

Judith - Here is a useful phone number: 911

If you feel that it is not a real emergency, which could be the case since you only reported to store security rather than an officer of the law, the non-emergency police number is 832-7509

By the way, there is a law: it falls under child endangerment - that is if your assessment is correct and you were not just being a busy body.

Unfortunately, your letter does not give the age of the child - which is the crucial factor of determining endangerment. The child's age would also determine if the vehicle was running unattended; another potential violation of law.

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