With the extremely hot summer months upon us, I think we can never talk enough about leaving children unattended in a vehicle. Each summer, news stories from across the United States are making headlines where children are forgotten about and left inside hot vehicles, with mostly devastatingly tragic results. Of course, most, if not all, of these incidents were accidents where a parent or guardian just forgot the child was in the back seat or they were distracted and thought the child had been dropped off at a safe location. Temperatures in a closed parked car in our area can rise from 80 to 140 degrees in less than an hour. Most of the time, after 30 minutes, it’s too late. This is a problem that crosses all social economic lines and can probably be contributed to the busy lifestyles that we all lead. Additionally, there are instances where people make the mistake of leaving their child in a vehicle temporarily while they run into a store or similar establishment. These too can turn deadly and are a violation of State law. Texas Penal Code statute Section 22.10 states it is a crime to “intentionally and knowingly leave a child in a motor vehicle for longer than five minutes, knowing that the child is younger than seven years of age and not attended by an individual in the vehicle who is 14 years of age or older.”
Some car manufacturers now are including visual and audio warnings to check your back seat when the car stops and the engine is turned off. This is an awesome advancement and will no doubt save lives as well as a lifetime of grief. I remember when my kids were little, I had a label that I made and affixed to my dash which said: “W A T Kids”, which stood for, where are the kids. It was a reminder for me to ensure that they were not behind my truck before backing up or that they were not left in the back seat. With me, it just turned out to be a backup plan as I always was fully aware where they were at. My point is, your children should be the most important asset in your life. Take an extra step to make certain that you are not involved in one of these tragedies. In other words, protect your children. It’s The Law.
DAVID SOWARD is the elected Sheriff of Atascosa County. He has been with the sheriff’s office for 42 years and he is in his 7th year as Sheriff. Sheriff Soward holds a Master Jailer’s License as well as a Master Peace Officer’s License from the State of Texas.