Chattahoochee Valley responds to death of a north Georgia child - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Chattahoochee Valley responds to death of a north Georgia child left in a car

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Police in Atlanta say a man whose 22-month-old son died after being left in a hot SUV for hours, has been charged with felony murder.

Justin Ross Harris, 33, is also charged with cruelty to children in his son's death.

Authorities say Harris was supposed to drive his son to daycare, but forgot and instead drove straight to work, not realizing the boy was strapped into his car seat until the ride home Wednesday afternoon.

News Leader 9's Tyrone McCoy joins us live from inside a hot truck with local reaction on the incident.

The truck I'm in has been sitting in this spot for about four hours. Temperatures inside nearly reaching 120 degrees in the back seat,150 in the front, producing startling numbers parents in the valley say aren't fit for any living thing to sit in for an extended period of time.

Mother, Petra Gertjegerdes-Myricks, explains "I have five children myself and I have forgotten or been late picking them up from school or maybe daycare, but I have never forgotten them in a car."

Gertjegerdes-Myricks says she has mixed emotions after hearing about the 22-month-old that died in Cobb County, after being left in a car for at least seven hours. Reports state the father, Justin Ross Harris, left the young child in the car when he went to work around 9 a.m. and remembered he left his son strapped in the car seat on the drive home, around 4 p.m. One Columbus dad calls the incident a result of rushing.

"We're always rushing around. It seems like we don't have enough time for anything, but you should always have time for your children," Michael Molinaro tells us.

We sat a set of thermometers inside an SUV for three hours to gauge the exact temperature a person or pet could face when left inside. In the front, temperatures quickly soared to around 150 degrees. In the back seat, typically where car seats sit, temps hit 118 degrees. Heat stroke can occur at 104 and this worries parents most.

Molinaro adds "obviously the truck in your car or your vehicle would pretty much be sucked up rather quickly. So, I mean, you can dehydrate."

And when asked about Ross's criminal charges for allegedly leaving his son in the car, resulting in his death, Columbus parents were unanimous.

Gertjegerdes-Myricks says "I do believe there should be some consequence behind what has happened because if not, it could also set a precedent where someone else would do it on purpose, but act like it's an accident."

"I would like to think that he didn't have intent to kill his children, but he definitely needs to pay a penalty for his neglect and his downright stupidity," adds Molinaro.

Less than a month ago, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal spear headed the "look Again" campaign to encourage parents to try and avoid leaving their children inside.

Safe Kids Worldwide gives three tips to avoid making this mistake with the acronym ACT:

1. Avoid heat-related injuries by never leaving your child in a car, not even for one minute.
2. Create reminders like putting something you need next to your child.
3. Lastly, take action call 911 if you see a child alone in a car.

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