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Boy with Autism Locks Himself in Hot Car and Dies

The Short of it

Zachary Elshaarawy, a 5-year-old boy from Texas who has autism, wandered out of his family's home and entered their unlocked car parked nearby in the 100-degree heat. By the time the boy's dad and authorities found him, it was too late.

The Lowdown

One of the traits associated with autism is wandering, and that is exactly what 5-year-old Zachary did when his father, Darek, was in the backyard putting a swing set together. Twenty minutes into the project, Darek realized his son was nowhere to be found and reported him missing to police.

Police and neighbors searched the area until they found the unresponsive child in the family’s sedan. The boy entered the car on his own, and according to his condition when they found him, it was clear he spent over an hour in 100-degree temps. Authorities rushed little Zachary to the hospital, but it was too late.

Darek tearfully told reporters his young son was looking forward to a new school year.  

“He was happy to go to school [tomorrow]. He knew he was going to go,” he told WFAA News. “I don't know how I'm going to live. He was my only child.”

The Upshot      

We often read horrifying stories about parents who forget their sleeping children in cars, but this little boy entered the vehicle on his own. It's a wake-up call to parents, no matter what the health status of your child, to always pay attention to their whereabouts. Children test limits, are curious and can find themselves in unsafe situations in the blink of an eye. 

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