AUSTIN, Texas – A 5-year-old boy died after being left in a hot car in Houston for “two to three hours” Monday.
“It’s one of those clubs nobody wants to join,” said Michelle Stuyvesant, an advocate with “Kids and Cars”.
In 2015 Stuyvesant’s husband, Eric, mistakenly left their sleeping young son Michael inside the family’s car in Garland. “You don’t want anyone to understand it. You don’t want another person to know what this feels like,” she said.
Michael survived. He suffered six strokes.
Today he is ten years old – entering the fourth grade about a year behind his peers academically. “I don’t like to put any kind of limit on what he can and can’t do because I don’t know,” said Stuyvesant.
Stuyvesant told FOX 7 Austin that doctors are in “awe” of Michael, who is considered a medical miracle.
A child’s body heat rises three to five times faster than an adults, meaning they can suffer fatal heat stroke at 104 degrees, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
FOX 7 Austin Meteorologist Zack Shields explained, “When the air temperature is 100 degrees inside the car, within 10 minutes, it’s already 119 [inside the vehicle.] Then 20 minutes near 130. Then you get to an hour. It’s up to a whopping 143 degrees. ”
Shields recommends putting something like a smartphone in the back seat of a vehicle when riding with a child.
“The most important thing in these situations is to never take for granted that you love your child so much you would never, ever be put in this situation. The best thing you can do for your child is to not trust that,” said Stuyvesant .
She said her husband has received death threats and people have even threatened to kidnap their son.
“As far as the guilt. And, I think there’s always there will always be some of that. It gets a little easier just interacting with Michael every day and being, you know, being mom and dad.”
Reading Monday’s news Stuyvesant hopes the Houston family understands they have a support network and that others approach them with understanding.
“Imagine walking to that vehicle and realizing ‘I did this. I hurt someone I love. I hurt my child. I hurt my flesh and blood.’ You know, if they could. Just take a few seconds. It’s painful. It’s awful. But at least give you give yourself that gift of being empathetic for another human being. ”
More than 1,000 US children have died in hot cars since 1990 and at least another 7,300 have been injured according to data collected by Kids and Cars.
Texas leads the nation with child hot car deaths; there have been 149 since 1990.