The dangers of leaving children alone in the car during the summer months are well known to us in society. Unfortunately, despite the numerous public service announcements reminding us of these dangers, it seems that every year we hear about another heat stroke death as a result of a child being left alone in the car. However, children are not the only ones susceptible to heat stroke.
On September 11, 2015, Hun Joon “Paul” Lee, 19, was left alone for seven hours on a bus in the 96-degree California heat. The bus driver failed to check the rear of the school bus, where Lee had been sitting, to ensure that everyone was let off the bus. Sadly, Lee was pronounced dead on the floor of the school bus after life-saving efforts failed.
The bus was owned by Pupil Transportation Cooperative, a company that provides regular and special education school transportation for multiple school districts in California. This disastrous incident was not the first time that the company’s drivers had left children on their buses. In a deposition conducted by the family’s lawyer, the company director admitted that at least four special-education students had been left on one of their buses between 2006 and 2015. Shockingly, none of the drivers involved in those incidents had been terminated afterwards.
Last year, the California State Legislature passed a law requiring that all buses in California be equipped with child safety alarms that have to be manually deactivated by a driver before leaving the bus. The law, to be effective in the 2018-2019 school year, also mandates that bus drivers receive annual training for child safety to renew their bus driver safety certificate.
Since 1998, 712 children that were left in vehicles have died of a heat stroke. All of these deaths, including Paul Lee’s could have been prevented.
If you or someone you know has suffered a heat stroke from being left alone in a vehicle, contact an experienced attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884. Abraham Watkins offers a free consultation to anyone wishing to pursue a claim for injuries that occurred as a result of another’s negligence.