HOUSTON - The sun becomes a killer when children are left in cars. An Austin mother is trying to save lives after her own daughter's death.
Kristi Reeves-Cavaliero's world stopped last summer after her baby girl Sophia, nicknamed Ray Ray, was left inside her husband's truck as he drove to his business instead of dropping their 1-year-old daughter off at day care.
"He arrived at his office around 10:30 a.m. and it was around lunch time when we noticed he didn't remember dropping her off," said Reeves-Cavaliero.
An Austin grand jury found Ray Ray's death to be a tragic accident.
"You know he lives in his own private hell every minute of every day knowing he made a mistake that cost us our daughter's life. He loved the child more than anyone on this earth," said Reeves-Cavaliero.
Ray Ray was one of 33 children across the country to die of hyperthermia after they were left in vehicles last year, according to the Department of Geosciences at San Francisco State University. In May of this year, three more children died after they were left inside cars including one from Fort Bend County.
Reeves-Cavaliero and her husband found the strength less than a year after their daughter's death to start Ray Ray's Pledge to warn other parents of these tradegies.
"We actually took my daughter's college fund and started this foundation so it was a sad day to go to the bank and change from a college fund to a non-profit," said the mother, now pregnant with twins.
The non profit foundation is encouraging parents and caregivers to take Ray Ray's Pledge to work together for better communication that may save another child's life.
"Number one, the parent will call anytime the child is going to be late or absent and the teacher on the other hand is going to act as a guardian angel by calling if there child does not arrive on time," said Reeves-Cavaliero.
Ray Ray's mother said her little girl had just turned 1 and was moved into another class at day care. Her new teachers were unaware Reeves-Cavaliero usually called if the child would be late.
"One phone call can save a child's life," said Reeves-Cavaliero. "More than 1 in 5 of all the children who die of hot car deaths were forgotten in the back seat and were suppose to have gone to day care that morning."
The foundation supplies forget-me-not reminders including magnets, key chains and bracelets for parents and caregivers.
Ray Ray's day care teachers came up with the idea for the key chains, and parents are putting the bracelets on gear shifts so they can't put the car into park without seeing the reminder.
"We can't bring out daughter back, but it is our hopes that by bringing to light hopefully engaging more parents and day cares in the safety discussion that we can save a few babies," said Reeves-Cavaliero.
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