TAMPA, Fla. -- In just the past couple of years, more than 100 children have died after being left in a hot car and just this year, two children have died in Florida.
While parents think it won’t happen to them, that wasn't the case for Bryce Balfour's mom.
“I knew he wasn't breathing, and prayed to God, ‘Please, please, don't let it be too late',” says Lyn Balfour, whose son died after she accidentally left him in her car. "I just remember dropping him off. I rushed to the car and, of course, there he was and he wasn't breathing."
On March 30, 2007, 9-month-old Bryce was accidentally left in a car for seven hours by his mother.
“I would think, that’s in irresponsible parent. I never thought you could accidentally forget your child until it happened to me,” says Balfour.
David Diamond, a professor at the University of South Florida, has studied hot car deaths for years.
“When I first learned about it, I had the same moral outrage most people had," says Diamond. "I didn’t understand how people left child in car so I studied it to answer the question, how does parent leave child in car? Then I heard hundreds of people are left in a car that isn’t reported. This is an epidemic."
An epidemic that he says can happen to anyone.
“What we do find consistently, is when person’s driving, they don't always have a child in the car. They believe they are alone in the car, it isn’t an intentional act,” says Diamond. “Most important thing for people is to not deny this can't happen to them. If it’s an activity, that you not normally take child on a drive, have something of the child’s in the front seat so you have a cue right next to you that the child is in the backseat. No, you shouldn't have to do that but if one of these parents did, that child may be alive.”
It's something, Balfour echoes in hopes no parent will ever have to go through the same pain she lives with every day.
“Is it worth playing Russian roulette with a child's life or worth taking preventive measures,” says Balfour.
Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies are still investigating the tragedy of 2-year-old Jacob Manchego who died in Brandon on Tuesday. Charges have yet been filed.
10News WTSP has learned in many cases, if charges are filed, they are usually dropped because it is difficult to prove there was criminal intent.
Diamond says it’s just a tragedy.
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