ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. - Summer is right around the corner and ahead of the increase in temperatures, authorities are reminding everyone about the dangers of leaving children in vehicles, even for a minute or two.
Makia Wallace knows the devastating reality of what can happen. Her nearly two-year-old son, Jace, died in September 2020 after authorities said his caregiver left him inside a hot car for more than seven hours.
The temperature inside the car reached as hot as 105 degrees.
"Falling on my knees and screaming, ‘God, what happened? What happened to my baby,’" she recalled during an interview with FOX 35.
As a result, she founded "Love Like Jace," a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of leaving children in a hot vehicle, and preventing more children from dying that way. She's partnered with other child-safety groups, such as "Safe Kids Worldwide."
"These tragedies are 100% preventable," said Orange County Sheriff John Mina during a press conference Wednesday morning.
When 85 degrees outside, the inside of a vehicle could reach as high as 143 degrees inside, he said.
Sheriff Mina said Florida is the second-leading state in the U.S. when it comes to hot car deaths. Four kids have died in hot cars in Orange County in the last five years, and 100 statewide since 1998.
"Always remember to look before you lock. Make sure your child hasn’t been left behind in their car seat," said Laura Dunn with National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Other tips include leaving an important time, such as a purse or wallet in the backseat, to help remind parents that someone is in the backseat.