An 8-month-old Garfield Heights boy who died in an SUV parked in a Macedonia Walmart Wednesday night is the 23 child in the U.S. to die in a hot car this year.
The Summit County Medical Examiner identified Jayce Markell Benjamin as the baby who was left in the car for 10 hours during the day.
Police dash camera video shows the scene at about 5:30 p.m. when the baby’s body was discovered in the parking lot on Macedonia Commons Boulevard.
The child’s grandmother was supposed to take the infant and three other children to a daycare that morning but forgot about the baby in the back seat, police said.
She went to work at Walmart, and police said she didn’t realize the mistake until it was too late.
It was only about 77 degrees in Macedonia at the time the child was found. But a child car safety advocate told newsnet5.com the temperature inside the car could have risen well over 100 degrees.
“The inside of a vehicle acts like a greenhouse and it heats up very quickly,” said Amber Rollins, the director of KidsinCars.org. "It doesn’t have to be a very warm day. We've seen children who have died of heat stroke when it’s 60 degrees outside.”
For one Medina couple, Todd and Melody Costello, the story is a painful reminder of just how fragile life can be.
The couple lost their 9-month-old son Tyler to hyperthermia back in July of 2002 when the baby was accidently left in the car for about 3 hours.
“It definitely hits close to home,” said Melody Costello, who now works alongside her husband to educate parents about ways to avoid such a tragic mistake.
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Safety experts agree it can happen to even the most careful of parents, especially when there’s a change in the routine.
“It’s people who are not usually in charge of having that child on that particular day and dropping them off when they're supposed to,” Costello said.
Costello suggests setting up reminders like a teddy bear in the car, double-checking with the daycare and sending a follow-up text when the routine changes.
Baby Jayce’s death is the 16th child heat stroke death in Ohio since 1998.
According to statistics gathered by the San Jose State Department of Meteorology & Climate Science, Ohio is one of the top 10 states with the most reported cases in that period of time.
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