Lawmakers introduce bill to prevent hot car deaths

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It is something we see far too often in the summer months. A Good Samaritan frantically trying to break a window to save a child or an animal, trapped in a hot car. (WPVI)

It is something we see far too often in the summer months. A Good Samaritan frantically trying to break a window to save a child or an animal, trapped in a hot car. And if two local lawmakers get their way, it's an act that would be protected by law.

Nationally on average, more than 30 times a year children die of vehicular heat stroke.

This summer there have been a spate of rescues by police and citizens breaking glass to save kids left trapped inside sweltering vehicles.

So what would you do?

New mom Becky Pham of Havertown tells us, "I would absolutely break in the window. And I would hope somebody would do the same if I accidentally left my son in the car."

Rose Groover of Woodlyn says, "I would call 911, really. Just standby. I don't know if I'd want to break-in to somebody's car."

Fred Marshal of Broomall explains, "First I'd look around to see if there was a parent close. If not then immediately, 911, and if it seemed like they were in distress, break the window."

Dave Carruth of Havertown is of a similar mind. But wondered out loud, "I would think about that. But in today's day and age, even though you're trying to do something heroic, someone might come up and say, 'You broke my window. I'm suing you.'"

Sued for breaking a car window to save a child? Are you kidding? No. Which is why lawmakers in Trenton and Harrisburg are considering extending Good Samaritan protection, normally reserved for people using first aid or rescuing someone at an accident scene.

State Senator Dominic Pileggi from Delaware County explains, "This bill establishes that that individual, that citizen that goes to the aid of a child in distress would have civil immunity as an extension of the Good Samaritan Statute."

Assemblyman Daniel Benson of Middlesex County says, "There's been reports that other states where people have been charged by an owner for vandalism or other concerns."

The senator and assemblyman are taking the lead in making a change. However, there are some differences in the proposals for the two states.

In Pennsylvania the focus is solely on those who are rescuing children from a hot car. In New Jersey the proposed bill includes pets, as well as an obligation on the Good Samaritan to call 911 to explain their actions to authorities.

Related Topics:
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