LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – As the summer draws near, one Louisiana man is bringing attention to an avoidable tragedy we witness dozens of times a year.
David Mapes is a Metairie resident who has traveled to the Hub City with an urgent message to stop children from dying in hot cars.
“Part of my faith is helping the helpless. These kids when they’re left in cars, they are absolutely helpless.”
David was motivated to write the Claire Report by the 2017 death of Claire Li, who died of heatstroke in a hot car when her father forgot to drop her off at daycare. Since then, the retired handyman has been working overtime to stop another child from being a victim.
“When I put the child in a light, it is going to come on right here. This is like the dash of your vehicle, see that light tells you there is a child in the seat. When I open the door this red light comes on and it beeps. And that’s all there is to it”, Mr. Mapes said as he described how his kid in a car censor works.
With a couple failed attempts to pass legislation in Congress, on May 12th the Hot Cars Act was reintroduced.
Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio said, “This bill would require the US Department of transportation to issue a final rule requiring cars to be equipped with a system to alert the driver if a passenger remains in the back seat when a car is turned off. No child should endure the tragedy of dying while trapped in a hot vehicle.”
Because it would take several years for legislation to become law, the immediate response Mr. Mapes has in place, is a bright orange safety vest. Once you put the child in the car seat, you put on the vest until you take your baby out. If you should forget your kid in the car, if you don’t see the loud color in your peripheral vision, hopefully people you see in public spaces would alert you to the message on your vest: Baby In Hot Car!
Amber Rollins with Kids and Cars, a national nonprofit dedicated to saving the lives of children and pets in and around motor vehicles’ told us, “Please understand this happens to the most loving, responsible, attentive parents. It is the malfunction of the memory systems in our brain and not a failure of love or caring for your child. It can literally happen to anybody.”
Over the past 23 years, hot car deaths nationwide have taken the lives of an average of 38 children, under the age of 15.
Even in a pandemic, 24 kids died in hot cars, the fewest number of deaths since the tragedies have been recorded and that’s why people like David Mapes is pushing for laws to protect the kids.