CARROLLTON, Ga. – Police arrested a father following the deaths of his toddler twin daughters who were left in a hot car in Georgia, authorities say.
“We do believe they were left in the car for a period of time, ” Capt. Chris Dobbs of the Carrollton Police Department said. Authorities are are investigating the deaths of the 15-month-old girls as a hot car incident
Dobbs said neighbors heard screaming and yelling Thursday evening, and called 911.
When police arrived at the duplex in Carrollton, the twins were out of the car and in a kiddie pool, where their father was trying to revive them. Frantic neighbors tried to lower their body temperatures with ice packs, Dobbs said.
The toddlers, Ariel Roxanne North and Alaynah Maryanne North, were transported to hospital, but did not survive. Autopsies will be conducted Friday morning.
The twins’ father, Asa North, 24, was charged with two counts of involuntary manslaughter and two counts of reckless conduct, according to Dobbs.
The mother was visiting a sick relative out of town at the time, but has since returned to Carrollton, he said. A car at the scene has been impounded.
Hot car deaths on the rise
If the investigation confirms the deaths are heat related, it’ll add on to a debate on the increasing numbers of such accidental deaths of children.
So far this year, 24 children have died in hot car incidents, according to the national safety advocacy organization, KidsAndCars.
That figure is nearly twice as high as the number of children who died by this time last year, the organization said.
On average, 37 children die every year from heat stroke in a vehicle, said Janet Fennell, founder of KidsAndCars.
The number of children who have lost their lives in hot cars has fluctuated every year since 1990 with the highest number — 49 — dying in 2010.
Of the children that die this way, 87% are age 3 and younger, Fennell said.
It could happen to anyone
There are typically two set of circumstances that lead to this kind of tragedy: Children either climb into a car on their own or a distracted adult leaves them in the car.
Fennell’s organization urges parents and caretakers to read its safety tips that include looking in the backseat each time you get out of the car and putting something you need in your backseat — your cell phone, handbag, employee ID or briefcase — to ensure that you will check.
KidsAndCars also suggests leaving a large stuffed animal in the child’s car seat and when the child is in the car seat, placing the stuffed animal in the passenger seat as a visual reminder to remove the child from the back.
“The biggest mistake people make is thinking that it can’t happen to them,” she said. “Everyone should practice those safety measures and do whatever they have to do to remind themselves to check the backseat.”
Fennell also believes technology could save lives.
“You can’t buy a car (today) that doesn’t turn your headlights off for you or remind you to turn off your headlights,” said Fennell, who argues these changes in cars show that the auto industry knows people are human and will forget to do things like turn off the car’s lights.
“And the question just begging to be answered is, who has decided it’s more important not to have a dead car battery than a dead baby? And I don’t say that to be harsh or sensational. It’s just a fact.”