14-year-old Graciela Martinez died after being locked inside a car on a hot day.
The family of a 14-year-old Central California girl is suing BMW North America and a local school district over the teenager’s heat stroke death inside a locked vehicle from which there was allegedly no escape.
While an average of 38 children left alone in cars die from heat each year in the U.S., deaths of older children or teenagers are exceedingly rare. A database assembled by the nonprofit Kids and Cars revealed only one other case – more than a decade ago – in which a teenager 14 or older died of heat in a locked vehicle.
According to the lawsuit filed this week in Madera County Superior Court, which seeks unspecified damages, Graciela Martinez was driven to school, on Sept. 11, 2013, in the family’s 1997 BMW 328i four-door sedan by her older brother, Oscar.
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After arriving at the Madera High School in Madera, about 20 miles northwest of Fresno, and parking in the rear of the parking lot at about 6:40 a.m., Oscar and his twin sister, Patricia, exited the car, leaving Graciela inside so she could get some extra sleep before her first class at 7:40 a.m., it said.