Hot car tragedy serves as a life-saving lesson for others

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Just a few minutes in a hot car could be deadly for a child, a lesson one father learned the hard way.

"In my mind I thought I had dropped her off at the daycare," recalled Reggie McKinnon of the morning of March 8, 2010.

That's when the South Florida resident accidentally left his sleeping 17-month-old daughter Payton in the backseat of his SUV.

"When I left work, I came out to my parking lot to put my laptop in the back of the SUV and that's when I found Payton still in the car seat," McKinnon said.

Tuesday, McKinnon and his wife Julia joined forces with the National Safety Council to help warn the public about the dangers of hot cars and children.

At least 819 children across the United States have died of heatstroke, according to Safe Kids Worldwide. That's one child every 10 days

Supporters for change are also behind the Hot Car Act, a bill requiring new vehicles to have rear seat sensors and alarms.

It's not enough to educate parents about the risk, said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Illinois. "Even the best parents can be distracted."

The McKinnons tell their story to anyone who will listen and hope they can turn their hot car tragedy into a life-saving lesson for others.

"We still tear up, its not easy, but this is a promise that we made to our sweet Payton,"said Julia McKinnon.
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