Pantego Police Trying to Prevent Child Hot Car Deaths

It's a story we have to tell you about all too often, children dying after they're left in a hot car.

Across the country there have been four more deaths in just the last few days, including one in Dallas.

That's raised the total to 23 deaths this year and that matches the number from all of last year.

The news is especially tough here in Texas because we lead the country in the number of these heat-related deaths.

Now, one local police department is doing what it can proactively to prevent another tragedy.

Walk into just about any business in the town of Pantego right now, and you'll see a sign asking "Where's baby? Look before you lock."

Public Safety Chief Tom Griffith recently had to break a window himself to save a child and he hopes the message will catch on before the next case turns deadly.

It happens every summer, sure as the Texas sun, children left in a hot car.

It's easy to ask, ‘How could that happen?’

"We're hearing about this more often and it's surprising to me," said Pantego mother Kimberly See.

Instead, Chief Griffith asked, ‘What can I do?’

"I got to thinking, you know, you really don't see a lot of proactive steps to stop this," said Griffith.

So Pantego police started their own steps. With a logo borrowed from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and a few pieces of tape, the message is spreading, posted on more than 100 local businesses.

"Put it right in front of their face, so that when they come and go right to the door, there's that poster," said Griffith.

It's a simple idea, in a small department.

"To raise awareness and pretty much bring attention to the fact that people leave their children in the car," said one Pantego officer as she hung one of the signs from a business.

"You have to start somewhere," added Griffith and he hopes others will follow.

"If we can be the first to try to get a ball rolling and have others follow suit with this same campaign, we can have everybody involved," said Griffith.

Because he knows the stakes are high.

"Who knows what that child could have been and you're devastating a family," said Griffith.

Pantego's looking ahead, by asking people for one more look back.

"Maybe what we just need to do is train people into a new way of thinking and form a new habit," said Griffith.

Griffith said even in a town that small, they respond to a couple of these calls every month in the summer. Fortunately they've never had a death and Griffith hopes the campaign will keep it that way.

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