In Georgia, a father is facing murder charges after leaving his small son in the car all day. Police believe that Justin Harris intentionally left his son in the car. During a probable cause hearing last month, investigators offered details indicating the boy suffered before his death.
More common, these tragedies are due to parents forgetting the children are in the car or ignorant to what a hot car does to the human body.
According to a San Francisco State University study, more than 600 children have died in hot cars since 1998, and PETA receives numerous reports every year about panicked animals who have died painfully inside cars during warm weather.
Read: Mom: I Left My Baby In a Hot Car
YouTube user Terry Williams of Raleigh, N.C., filmed himself in a hot car. "I would never leave my kids in a car like this," he says, sweating heavily. "We go through this every year."
A Texas police officer turned off his patrol car and sat without air conditioning, recording his experience on video in five minute intervals.
Cpl. Jessie Peterson of the Highland Village Police Department only lasted 30 minutes in quickly-rising temperatures of the car before he had to get out and recover.
Peterson was sweating after the first five minutes, though the air had been on high right before he turned off the car. When half an hour had passed, he was flushed, sweating and had trouble breathing. At the time of his experiment, he said the high outside was 94 degrees.
When outside temperatures are in the 60s, the temperature inside a parked car can rise to more than 110 degrees, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Temperatures can rise 20 degrees in just 10 minutes inside a car.
“Even with a window rolled down two inches, if the outside temperature is in the low 80s° Fahrenheit, the temperature inside a vehicle can reach deadly levels in only 10 minutes,” the NHTSA reports. Further, children’s bodies do not regulate heat as well as adults. “In fact, when left in a hot vehicle, a young child's body temperature may increase three to five times as fast an adult. High body temperatures can cause permanent injury or even death.”
Includes reporting from Milford Patch.