A North Carolina father of three has brought the tragedy of leaving small children unattended inside hot cars to headline news in a big way. Terry Bartley uploaded a video on June 20 which has gone viral and is raising awareness across the world.
Bartley produced his “Hot Car Challenge” to warn parents to stop leaving their kids alone inside their cars. He was outraged after the death of 22-month-old Cooper Harris, left alone in a hot car by his father for nine hours.
In the video Bartley simulates what happens when defenseless children sit in a car with the windows rolled up on a hot day, with sweat dripping down his forehead, cheeks, and neck.
“I want to know how it feels to be left in the car, sitting in the back seat, strapped into a car seat with the windows up and doors probably locked,” Bartley says in the video clip.
Cooper was left in an SUV on a 90-degree day. His father, Justin Ross Harris, is now charged with felony murder and cruelty to a child in the second degree. He has pleaded not guilty, saying he left Cooper in the car accidentally
That tragedy motivated Bartley to sit inside his car and start recording. The temperature outside in the video reached the upper 80s.
Bartley told ABC News Sunday that as the temperature outside the car began to rise, he could barely breathe inside. "I was losing air, it was like I was sitting in a microwave cooking," he said. "I could have easily took my shirt and wiped my face and wringed it out."
It only takes 15 to 20 minutes for someone to die in a hot car. Bartley said he could only endure the heat for 12 minutes.
At least 17 children have died of heat stroke in hot cars this year alone, according to the website kidsandcars.org. Bartley is hoping his challenge will raise awareness to help prevent any more deaths.
Bartley’s video has been viewed more than 1.1 million times, inspiring others to take the challenge and create their own videos, some of which feature children and dogs.
"I was shocked," he told ABC News. "I made a video and I didn’t expect that it would get this kind of attention it did. It kind of blew up out of nowhere." The video can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cuCtadNRAeA.