State Senator Frank LaRose (R-Copley Township) today announced Senate passage of legislation to grant civil immunity to Ohioans that forcibly remove a child or pet from a locked vehicle under certain urgent circumstances.

The bill, joint-sponsored by State Senator Jim Hughes (R- Columbus), allows rescuers acting in good faith to break into the vehicle to prevent imminent danger that the child or pet faces as a result of excessive temperatures. The person must contact 9-1-1 prior to forcibly entering the vehicle.

"This is a common sense measure that seeks to protect good samaritans who save the life of a child or rescue a pet," said LaRose. "Far too often we hear tragic stories about deaths which occur when children and pets are left alone in hot vehicles and as a father of three young children I am glad we are taking this important preventative step." said LaRose.

Hours after the bill was introduced, a tragedy occurred in Senator LaRose's district in which an eight-month-old child passed away after being left in a car, further demonstrating the urgent need for this change in law.

The vehicle must be locked and no other reasonable method for the child or animal to exit may exist.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, cars parked in direct sunlight can reach internal temperatures up to 131° F - 172° F when outside temperatures are 80° F – 100° F. Even outside temperatures in the 60s can cause a car temperature to rise well above 110° F."

The non-profit group Kids and Cars, a national advocate for child safety, notes that 600 children have died in hot vehicles since 1990. The National Conference of State Legislatures reports that fourteen states have rescue provisions regarding distressed animals.

Senate Bill 215 will now be sent to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

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