UAE | General

Boy’s death in hot car: An all too common summer tragedy

Children suffocating in scorching cars becoming annual tragedy in UAE

  • By Faisal Masudi and Aghaddir Ali, Staff Reporters
  • Published: 17:31 June 9, 2013
  • Gulf News

  • Image Credit: Virendra Saklani/Gulf News
  • Child wearing seat belt sitting on the rear seat of the car.

Dubai: A three-year-old boy is dead because he was left forgotten inside a baking hot car.

The Yemeni toddler suffocated inside his family car on Friday in Ras Al Khaimah. He had been left behind for three hours in the car parked in the garage. The family had returned home around 2pm after an outing.

The temperature had soared to around 43C on Friday in Ras Al Khaimah, typical of the brutal UAE summer. But what the child felt inside the car would have been much worse.

A 2008 study by the University of Western Australia said that temperatures in parked cars may reach up to 25 degrees Celsius more than the temperature outside the car on a typical sunny day.

Sadly, Friday’s shocking incident is not unheard of in the UAE. A number of other children have met a similar tragic end over the years. And residents again face a familiar, morbid question – will there be more such tragedies this summer?

The deadly convergence of circumstances has spelled disaster for families in the UAE and abroad – a lapse by guardians, a locked car, a tender life left behind – all under an unforgiving sun.

The Yemeni boy’s family had only realised he was missing in the backseat three hours after they had stepped out of the vehicle and walked into the comfort of their home.

But it had been too late. The unconscious boy died on the way to hospital, where an official said he had died from suffocation and heat.

Police have ruled out any foul play.

This severe emotional pain has afflicted other UAE parents too.

In July 2012, a five-year-old Emirati girl died after her grandmother forgot her in the car for almost two hours while she was visiting a friend in Umm Al Quwain. The grandmother had thought she had gone out with her other grandchildren to the corner shop. She had been tragically mistaken.

The girl’s motionless body was found inside the car after a search; she was pronounced dead at the site.

Earlier, in June 2012, a three-year-old Emirati boy died after his family forgot him in the car for almost four hours in Kalba. Again, a lifeless body was carried out from the chocking heat of a car.

It is not just parents or families who suffer blame and guilt; there have been cases of schoolchildren who never made it back home.

In May 2009, a four- year-old Pakistani girl studying in an Abu Dhabi kindergarten died after being inadvertently locked inside a private bus for at least three hours. Her father, who had been frantically looking for her, had finally received a call — to come to the parked bus. He had to see his motionless child slumped on the backseat.

Another four-year-pupil died after he was left locked in his kindergarten van in Abu Dhabi in April 2008.

A year earlier from that incident, in May 2007, a four-year-old girl died of suffocation as she slept in her father’s car in sizzling temperatures for 45 minutes in Al Ain. She had slipped back inside the car unnoticed as the family hurriedly prepared for Friday prayers.

Al Ain had then been the country’s hottest spot for several days with maximum temperatures reaching above 45C in the daytime.

The temperature can reach 55C in a car parked under the sun for just 30 minutes, a police official had said.

Reports of such incidents have made headlines in the local and regional press, leaving residents shocked – and bewildered at why the tragedies strike almost every summer.

Authorities and experts have been vocal about keeping a close eye on children, especially in such harsh weather.

Comments (27)

  1. Added 17:20 June 10, 2013

    With due sympathy to the boy's family I would like to say all that please keep your young ones a priority. maybe people call you an over protective parent but take it as a compliment and do not deter from keeping an eye on them round the clock

    Mahesh, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 16:11 June 10, 2013

    Sorry to be harsh but the parents are to be blamed!! How can you forget your toddler for 4 hours? I have a toddler myself and I never leave my daughter alone even for 1 minute. These incidents are on the rise here in the UAE. I say the parents need to be held accountable! The authorities need to take some action here and make it an example so that careless parents will at least be afraid of what the law might do to them. Hopefully some precious lives might get saved in the future if the law is more severe. FORGETTING is not an excuse. Its NEGLIGENCE.

    Safee, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 16:09 June 10, 2013

    Crime by parents.

    Tariq Seddiqi, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 15:19 June 10, 2013

    such a tragic incident. It needs a campaign from the authorities to educate people on such issues. We get driving education here before getting license but not the security session. it should be a must and for existing through ads/sms/tv campaigns.

    Alija, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 14:49 June 10, 2013

    It’s so sad and I totally blame the parents on this case. We cannot hand over everything such as taking care of your own kids to technology.

    Virosh, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 14:13 June 10, 2013

    I just cannot understand how careless parents can be! I still see parents letting their children sit on their lap when they drive or even let them put their heads out of car window! Parents these days are becoming extremely negligent!

    Shoba, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 14:03 June 10, 2013

    A huge punishment must be given to parents, just think that how you can forget your son in car?

    Jamal, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 13:02 June 10, 2013

    It seems this is common news. Am not a mother but until now I still cant come to terms to a fact/reality that parents will forget a helpless child inside the car! For me thats the highest form of irresponsibility and should be considered as a crime.

    glenda, abu dhabi, Philippines

  9. Added 12:52 June 10, 2013

    It is highly sad to see the cause of deaths of young toddlers being negligence. Parents should be more vigilant with their kids as they are precious and they are not aware of the consequences of staying in the heat for too long. We have to act responsibly and respect that children need to be given all the attention they deserve. Please be careful of your and all the children around as its a shame to lose them to such a tragic cause.

    Aisha, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 12:42 June 10, 2013

    Its joint responsibility of the family- as father is main earning member so to care the children this responsibility goes to the mother - in this case mother must be punished for this ...

    Anis Ahmad Fatehpuri, Dubai, India

  11. View more comments

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