Proposed law grants immunity for breaking a vehicle window to save a child or pet in danger

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) –Everyone should know leaving a child or pet in a hot car can be deadly, but statistics show more than 600 children died in the US in hot vehicles over the last 25 years.

A proposed Ohio law, Senate Bill 23, could give immunity to anyone who smashes out a vehicle’s window to rescue those threatened with a life and death situation.

People have been charged and faced lawsuits before for smashing out windows to save a child or pet facing death.

Experts said under the proposed law the rescuer should check to see if the vehicle is unlocked or windows can go down. If not, people will be allowed to break the window out–but only if they believe the child or pet is in imminent danger of death inside an overheated or freezing vehicle.

Jason Gibson is a new father. He said he does not take his daughter in his car because it does not have air conditioning.

“I just had a newborn,” he said. “If I see anyone’s kid in trouble I am going to do anything I can to help them out, even a dog,”

Ohio Senator Jim Hughes (R16) is one of the sponsors of what he calls the Good Samaritan bill.

“The first hour statistics show the temperature can increase 30 or 40 degrees inside the vehicle,” Hughes said.

He said that’s on a 72 degree day. The temperature escalates on a humid, 90-degree summer day.

Some people NBC4 spoke with said the decision to break a vehicle window is not always as clear-cut as it might seem.

“I think it is always good if you can rescue a child that is in a hot car, but I think the issue is quite complicated, sometimes things aren’t what they seem, and I think you have to be really careful for just giving someone permission to just enter a car,” said Thomas Maultsby of Dayton.

Singer Carrie Underwood said she faced a similar moment when she tweeted about how her two dogs accidentally locked her vehicle doors with her child inside.

The law specifies the person needs to call 911 for help before smashing the window and you need to stay with the child or pet until help arrives.

Senator Hughes said  he hopes the bill can become law by this winter or early next spring.

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