The moment Katie Corbin heard her car doors lock, she said, she started to panic.
The mother said she had stopped to get gas Tuesday at a service station in Northville Township, Mich., near Detroit, when the doors locked automatically, according to ABC affiliate WXYZ. Her purse, her cellphone and her keys were suddenly trapped inside the car — so was her 1-year-old son, Joey, who quickly started to sweat and cry.
“At this point, I’m panicking,” she told the station. “It’s like 92 degrees outside.”
Corbin told WXYZ that she has two sets of car keys — one was in her purse and one in her diaper bag — both of which she left inside her 2018 Chevy Malibu. The vehicle uses a keyless entry system, which is supposed to recognize when a key fob is within range and allow the driver to enter without the keys, so, Corbin told the reporter, she never expected to get locked out of the car that way. (Some keyless entry systems also can automatically lock a vehicle if the driver walks a certain distance away.)
Corbin could not immediately be reached for comment by The Washington Post.
After Corbin realized what had happened, she told WXYZ, bystanders tried to help — one showed up with a mallet and another called 911. Within minutes, she said, police officers arrived on the scene and then freed her child.
“He was just pouring sweat,” she said of Joey. “I got him out. He stopped crying immediately — just laid his head on my chest, and I just squeezed him and held him.”
Studies have shown that cars parked in the shade can reach nearly 100 degrees within an hour, and 116 degrees in the sun. The situation can turn dire when a body temperature reaches more than 104 degrees and a person cannot cool down. In such cases, the person can experience heat stroke — becoming dizzy, disoriented and confused, feeling fatigued or falling into a coma, according to the National Institutes of Health. When the condition is not properly and promptly treated, it can lead to death.
Each year, an estimated 37 children die after becoming trapped inside hot vehicles, according to KidsandCars.org. At least 42 children have died under such circumstances so far this year, according to the organization.
Following Tuesday’s incident, Corbin told WXYZ that when she reported the problem with the door locks, the dealership told her that keeping the key fob in fabric, such as purse or diaper bag, may interrupt the signal. Now, she said, she’s warning others.
“Be careful,” she told the station. “Don’t trust technology.”
Chevrolet could not immediately be reached for comment.