Legislators call for more punishment for leaving kids in cars - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Legislators call for stronger punishment for those who leave children in car

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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

It is happening too often right here in Connecticut, and many people want to put a stop to the children being left unattended in vehicles.

In the wake of the 15-month-old Ridgefield child who died after being left in a scorching hot car earlier this week, some legislators are calling for tougher penalties for parents and guardians.

Connecticut State Police said 15 children have died in the state this year because of hot car related issues, and that has many state leaders saying enough is enough.

"I don't understand really how people could be that busy. I think it's neglectful," said Elizabeth Battistone of Newington.

The tragic death of 15-month-old Benjamin Seitz in Ridgefield after being left in a hot car by his father is sparking outrage from people across the state.

"Complete neglect. I don't know how you could forget a child in a car. You put them in the car to begin with so it's kind of hard for me to understand ‘I left my child in the car,'" said Aquino Arborio of Newington.

In July alone there have been six other incidents in Connecticut where caretakers, including mothers and fathers, were arrested for leaving their children in unattended hot cars.

"This deep, deep heartbreaking tragedy is like a punch in the gut to almost everyone. I can't believe it," said State Sen. Toni Boucher of District 26.

Boucher wants to introduce legislation to strengthen state penalties.

Right now in Connecticut it is a Class A misdemeanor to leave a child under the age of 12-years-old in an unattended vehicle.

"Sometimes people do the right thing naturally and other times there's rules, regulations, laws that incentivize some people. That's why we have seat belts, speeding limits on our highways and this might be a good time to revisit some legislation we have on the books," Boucher added.

While everyone can agree these incidents need to stop, there are different opinions on the best way to do so.

"I think there should be some type of consequence. Whether they should be made to go to parenting training, maybe pay a fine, do community service," Battistone said.

Boucher will bring the issue to the state's transportation committee, and she said she'd like the new legislation to also include protections for pets and the elderly.

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