Georgia police investigating deaths of twin girls as hot car incident

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CARROLLTON, Georgia — Police are investigating the deaths of 15-month-old twin girls in northwest Georgia as a hot car incident, authorities said.

Capt. Chris Dobbs said they responded to a 911 call Thursday evening at a duplex in Carrollton.

When police arrived, neighbors sent them to the back of the complex, where they found the twin girls in a shallow kiddie pool, and the father immersing them to try and revive them, Dobbs said. Witnesses called 911 after they heard lots of screaming and yelling.

The children were transported to hospital, but did not survive, he said. 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 not in 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 linked to a hot car incident, 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.”

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