A bill is now heading to South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s desk to protect people who break windows to rescue children in hot cars. The bill gives immunity from civil liability for damage to vehicles resulting from someone breaking in to save a child or vulnerable adult.
The House gave its final unanimous approval to the bill Thursday. It was sponsored by Seneca Rep. Bill Sandifer, who says he doesn’t know of any cases in which someone was sued for breaking a car window to rescue a child inside but it could happen. He says once this is law, it should encourage people to take action if they see a child or vulnerable adult in a hot car.
“If we lose just one child or one adult, it’s too many,” he says.
Columbia mother Jennifer Fletcher was strapping into his car seat her 13-month-old son Friday. She thinks the law is a good idea. “If it was my child in the hot car and I had a moment where I just didn’t remember, which I don’t know how that happens, but if I had a moment where I’d left my child in the car I hope that someone would bust the window or do whatever they could to get in it. So no, I don’t feel like the person should be liable.”
Oscar Gadsden of Columbia says the law wouldn’t change his reaction to seeing a child in a hot car. “Whether they pass the bill or not, if I have to pay for the window later, I’d rather pay for the window later and make sure the child is alright than to worry about a law and not breaking a window and the child could die.”
Tennessee is the only state that has a similar law already. South Carolina’s law would not apply to pets left inside hot vehicles.
According to the national organization KidsandCars.org, since 1997, ten children in South Carolina have died after being left in hot cars.