Trapped boys die of heat injuries

By Robert Medley and Jennifer Jackson
The Oklahoman

NORMAN - A 7-year-old boy and his 4-year-old brother died Monday after suffering heat-related injuries while trapped in the trunk of a car, police said.

Houston Tyler McDaniel, 7, and Hunter McDaniel, 4, became locked in a car trunk Sunday afternoon at 10100 E Tecumseh Road, police Lt. Tom Easley said.

Both were inside the trunk when a family member found them shortly before 1 p.m. Sunday, police said. Police think the boys had been in the trunk about an hour, Easley said.

A distraught neighbor who did not want to be identified stood next door to the McDaniels' rural northeast Norman home about 5 p.m. Monday.

The man said the boys' parents do not have medical insurance.

The man said he didn't want to comment on what happened.

"I can't say anything right now. They were like my boys," he said.

The boys' family did not want to talk to the media, they said through an OU Medical Center spokesman.

Both boys were unconscious when they were discovered, Easley said.

Easley said Houston was pronounced dead at OU Medical Center about 3 p.m. Monday. He said Hunter was pronounced dead about 4:45 p.m.

Detectives are investigating the Sunday incident, but Easley would not comment on details of the case.

The temperature at the time the boys were found was 90 degrees, the National Weather Service in Norman said.

Child safety advocates say that children are particularly vulnerable if trapped inside a hot car.

Janette Fennell, a Leawood, Kan., woman and founder and president of Kids and Cars, said four children have died this year after being locked in the trunk of a car. She said the incidents occurred in Camden, N.J., and Norman, Ark.

Her group studies cases in which children are in collision and noncollision fatalities involving cars. Those cases include those in which children are accidentally or purposely locked inside car trunks.

"We're the organization that actually got a federal regulation passed so that all vehicles that are 2002 or newer will have a trunk release inside the trunk," Fennell said.

She said incidents like Monday's deaths could be avoided if every car had a trunk release.

"Any child would be able to escape if they got caught in the trunk of a car.

"As soon as kids go missing check the car and check the trunk," Fennell said.