A 25-year-old mother in Lakewood, New Jersey has been charged after her 21-month-old daughter died from being left in a hot car. In a press release issued on Monday, the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office revealed that Chaya Shurkin abandoned her child for over two-and-a-half hours. Shurkin was charged with second degree endangering the welfare of a child.
Responding to a report of a child in distress, officers from the Lakewood Township Police Department found neighbors attempting to perform CPR on the toddler. She later died after being transported to the hospital, where medics confirmed that her cause of death was overheating.
NBC New York reported that the child’s parents had “a miscommunication” about which one of them would be bringing the child in from the car. Miscommunication or not, this phenomenon is becoming far too common. According to NoHeatStroke.org, approximately 37 children under the age of 14 die from being left in a hot car each year. 52 children died from Pediatric Vehicular Heatstroke (PVH) in 2018 – a record number. So far in 2019, PVH has taken 11 children.
Like Shurkin and her child’s father, the majority of parents who lose their children to PVH aren’t acting maliciously. They’re simply either not aware of proper procedures or miscommunicate with each other. This is why it’s so important for parents to educate themselves and always double (and triple) check any plans that involve their children being in and out of vehicles.
The Centers for Disease Control warns that regardless of temperatures or if the windows are cracked, it is never safe to leave children unattended in a car for any amount of time. Within just 10 minutes, temperatures inside a car can rise nearly 20 degrees Fahrenheit. The CDC also recommends dressing children in loose, lightweight, and light-colored clothing as well as keeping them hydrated – especially when traveling.