Heartbroken family works to prevent hot car child deaths

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- It's simply heartbreaking every time we hear of someone accidentally leaving a child in a car and the child dies. One local couple is sharing their story of how they lost their seven-month-old son in an effort to hopefully prevent another family from going through the same tragedy.

Whether you're just running inside to get milk or just following muscle memory, it can be a mistake made more easily than you'd think. It's what happened to the Jacobsons. They lost their 7-month-old son Luke in 2012 after accidentally leaving him in a hot car.

"What we went through that day, it tears our heart up that we would not want anyone to ever go through this, to lose a child," Deannie Jacobson said.

When children are rear-facing in the backseat, they can be forgotten. Summer is coming and with that, the stifling temperatures. That's why the Jacobsons are sharing their story and joining safety groups to promote a new child vehicular heat stroke awareness campaign.

Every year, almost 40 children die of heatstroke after being forgotten in a vehicle. In 70 degree weather, it takes only minutes for the inside of the car to heat up like an oven.

Leland Jacobson said, "I can't say how bad the struggle has been and it's been three years. There's nothing worse than doing something that will put your whole family in therapy."

Beth Warren, Texas DPS Occupant Safety Program Director, said, "Child vehicular heatstroke is the number one cause of non-crash vehicle related deaths in the U.S. today."

"Children, infants and babies aren't like adults," Dr. Shannon Orsak explained. "Their thermoregulatory systems have not developed fully yet, not until you become an adult. And they can heat up five times faster than an adult."

Experts say to leave something you wouldn't the car without on the backseat, like a cell phone. That way you're forced to check the back. It's something the Jacobsons wished they had done.

"Don't become judgmental. Don't assume it can't happen to you, because it can," Deannie Jacobson said. "We're normal people. We have normal jobs. And it happened to us."
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