Two years ago, Houston and Henry County District Attorney, Doug Valeska, handled a disturbing case. A 4-year-old boy died after being trapped in his mom’s car for hours. His mother was sent to prison.
“It's one of the most shocking and horrible cases I’ve ever seen,” said Valeska. “Bottom line is, in a car where the temperature is 94 degrees outside, within 10 to 15 minutes, it can go up to 118 degrees inside the car.”
It is at least a misdemeanor to leave your child in a car, and the charges do not stop there.
“We can get as high as up to murder, then down to manslaughter, and down to child abuse,” explained Corporal Maurice Eggleston with the Dothan Police Department.
Dr. Michael Ramsey with Dothan Pediatrics said even with windows cracked it is not safe. This also applies to teenagers and seniors.
“It causes basically a form of heat stroke in that child which can result in them losing consciousness. It can affect their heart function, it can affect their breathing,” explained Ramsey.
“It’s a killer heat for a reason,” said Valeska.
Valeska said it is important for parents to keep an eye on their children. Check your car before you leave. Also, lock it at home so a child cannot accidentally lock themselves in. If you are not careful, it could cost a child’s life and those charges can be severe.
“You could face the death penalty,” said Valeska.
The same law applies to pets. Police can arrest you for leaving an animal in a car.