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Maricopa County attorney reports first summer in years with no hot car deaths

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

PHOENIX — For the first time in years, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has recorded a summer without a single death of a child or animal in a hot car.

“I’m very proud to say that it was the first summer in years that we had zero hot car deaths,” Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery said.

Montgomery’s office used a mobile billboard and a social media campaign to remind people not to leave kids and pets in a hot car.

“Our hot car campaign mobile billboard covered more than 4,000 miles from Avondale to Queen Creek to Peoria to Gilbert, Phoenix, Mesa, and all parts in between,” he said.

Montgomery estimated more than 90,000 people saw the billboard while the truck was parked outside the Phoenix Comicon convention in May, while more than 40,000 people saw it at Chandler’s July 4 celebration. The billboard was also at multiple sporting events in downtown Phoenix.

The campaign also had a major social media push that used the hashtag #DontLeaveMeBehind.

“That was our most popular tweet all summer long,” Montgomery said. “Many of those earned upwards of 10,000 impressions, particularly when they featured one of our furry friends.”

However, Montgomery said there was one close call over the summer.

“We did have, this past week, a 1 year old who was left in a car near Mesa,” he said. “Luckily, she was unharmed after spending up to an hour in a locked vehicle.”

Montgomery said that, even though this summer’s awareness campaign was over as of Labor Day weekend, Arizonans can’t let their guard down.

“It’s important for us to keep in mind that whenever we have warm temperatures, we’ve got to be aware that leaving children or pets inside of a car can result in dangerous circumstances, and we need to remain vigilant,” he said.

Nationally, the news wasn’t as good. Montgomery said that 28 people died in hot cars across the country this summer, up from 24 last year.

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