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'That right there is how my grandson died': Residents reminded to refrain from leaving children, pets in hot cars

Even if the temperature outside the vehicle is comfortable, the temperature inside can become unbearable in a matter of minutes.

BOISE, Idaho — As summer approaches and the weather begins warming, Treasure Valley residents are reminded to refrain from leaving children and pets in their vehicles on hot days. Even if the temperature outside the vehicle is comfortable, the temperature inside can be unbearable.

Every year, Wesley Ulmer of Nampa is reminded of his experience with a vulnerable individual being left in a hot car. That individual was his grandson, Logan.

“My grandson was left in a hot car, not on purpose,” Ulmer said. “There was a dog fight at the house. All the kids jumped out and grabbed the dogs and pulled them apart. After that all calmed down, everyone asked, ‘Where's Logan?’ And he had been forgotten in the car. My grandson did not make it.” 

The incident took place two years ago in Arkansas.

On Monday, however, Ulmer was walking out of a store when he spotted a baby left unattended in a car. The sight immediately reminded him of his grandson's death.

He then went back to the store and looked for the car owner, who he eventually found and led outside.

"I walked them out to their car and I said, 'That right there is how my grandson died,'” Ulmer said. “And they looked at me and said, 'We were only going in for a minute.' You don’t know what’s happening with that baby when that baby is in that car asleep. That baby is not going to jump up and say, 'Hey, I’m dying here! Help me!'” 

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Boise Police get calls about similar incidents every year.

“We do take it very seriously," Boise Police Lt. Josiah Ransom said. "We obviously don’t want to see a kid get hurt."

Ransom understands it can be inconvenient to do a quick errand with children, but feels it's more important to keep them safe. 

“It's that time of the year when, even if you're trying to do that quick errand, [you need to] realize that your car gets extremely hot, extremely fast,” Ransom said. 

On a day when it’s 75 degrees outside, the inside of a car can heat up to 94 degrees within ten minutes. Within 30 minutes, that temperature can skyrocket to 109 degrees. 

In order to prevent another family from experiencing what his family did, Ulmer is using what he saw happen at the store on Monday to share his message.

“First I got angry, and then I started crying and I couldn’t stop crying," he said. "I cried for two hours because that baby can’t help itself. That baby can’t do anything. 'It's just a minute.' I understand, but it's not worth it.” 

Nearly 1,000 children have died in hot cars nationwide since 1990, according to KidsAndCars.org. A child's body heats up three to five times faster than an adult's body does.

The reminder to not leave kids in hot cars also extends to anyone with pets. Boise Police, along with a number of other agencies, will roll out the third annual "Look Before You Lock" campaign later this month. 

Idaho law protects individuals from civil or criminal liability or charges when it comes to breaking a window to save a person, but not an animal.

It is important to use discretion if you find yourself in this situation and make sure to call 9-1-1 if you see this happen, according to Ransom.

A person who leaves their child in a car could face a misdemeanor or felony depending on the injury to the child. 

“Five minutes is not okay to leave a baby in a car or a dog or anything you want to come back and find alive,” Ulmer said.

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