FLORENCE, SC (WMBF) – The 7-month-old that died after being left in a hot car late Thursday afternoon is the 5th hot car death in South Carolina this year.
Florence County deputies, fire and EMS responded to a call at a home on Via Ponticello Road where they found baby Dean Emerson Coward unresponsive. Authorities say the death is being investigated as a “potential heat-related incident from being left in a vehicle.”
The infant’s father 36-year-old Brandon Coward was arrested and charged with homicide by child abuse.
While uncommon, Billy Hatchell with Florence County EMS said when it comes to hot car deaths it only takes minutes for a child overheat.
“This is a tough thing, you know, how a grown parent can forget their child is in the back seat I don’t know and I’m a father… I had three children,” Hatchell said.
According to kidsandcars.org, there have been 44 hot car deaths in the U.S. so far this year.
Hatchell said while they usually start to see a slow down in heat emergencies around this time of year, the weather is still dangerous.
To raise awareness a few years ago, Hatchell said a paramedic demonstrated just how quick the temperatures inside of a car can get.
“He was in there about 30 mins and had to pull himself out because it just gets so hot in the car,” Hatchell said.
But when it comes to a child, Hatchell said they may not be able to do the same.
“They just don’t have the means to compensate,” Hatchell said. “The brain just gets very very hot. It gets over 104, 105 degrees Fahrenheit and it just shuts down.”
Placing items like your cell phone or purse in the back seat are some way’s Hatchell said can be a helpful reminder.
“Backpack’s in the backseat, the diaper bag in the front seat, the baby’s toy in the front, something to remind your child is there,” Hatchell said.
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