RALEIGH, N.C. (PIX11) – Heartbreaking and wholly preventable tragedies happen every summer: children are left alone in hot cars and, oftentimes, die.
A father in North Carolina was so fed up with the careless loss of life that he endured a sweltering car, its engine off and windows up, and challenged other parents to do the same.
“I want to know how it feels to be left in a car, sitting in the back seat, strapped into a car seat, with the windows up and doors probably locked. I wanted to know how it feels to sit in a car. I would never leave my kids in a car like this, man, ever,” Terry Bartley said, his face dripping with sweat.
Bartley posted a video of himself sweating inside a parked car in Raleigh, North Carolina. He said the outside temperature was between 86 and 90 degrees.
He said he could barely breathe in the car, noting that his “system was stronger than these kids’ systems” and that even though he could endure more of the heat, he was still suffering.
Posted on June 20, Bartley’s video titled “Don’t leave ur kids in car” has garnered more than 1.3 million views as of Tuesday morning.
When outside temperatures are between 80 and 100 degrees, cars parked in direct sunlight can reach life-threatening internal temperatures between 131 and 172 degrees, according to the federal National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
At least 17 children in the U.S. have died of heatstroke so far this year after being left alone in cars, according to the Department of Earth & Climate Sciences at San Francisco State University, which tracks the tragedies.
In 2013, 44 children died after being left alone in a roasting car, and on average, 38 children die every year in the same way.
One of the most high-profile hot car deaths this year involves 22-month-old Cooper Harris, whose father is accused of leaving the tot in a suffocating car until the little boy died in a Georgia parking lot.
“This is wrong, man. We go through this every, every year, year after year after year. There always be some fool who wants to leave their kid in the backseat of the car and forgot all about him,” Bartley said in the widely watched video.
“Do you really love your kids? That’s what you should ask yourself. Even though you gonna get some jail time, losing that kid is punishment enough.”