Proposed bill could make April “Hot Car Death Prevention Month” after 10-month-old died in July

Six months after 10-month-old Ariya Paige died from being left in a hot vehicle in late July in Baker County, her family is pushing lawmakers to create legislation that can protect and save other children from the heartbreaking tragedy they endured.

Senate Bill 554, also called Ariya’s Act, would designate April as “Hot Car Death Prevention Month” in Florida. It also calls for the Department of Children and Families, the Department of Health, local governments, and other agencies to sponsor events that educate the public on the dangers of leaving a child unattended in a vehicle.

There is significance in the family choosing the month of April.

“It’s right before it gets really hot in Florida and it’s when you want to get the public education, awareness, and get the word out to shed a light on it,” said Ariya’s grandmother Pamela Paige. “This is 100% preventable. There is no reason why another child should die the way we lost Ariya.”

Ariya’s parents and grandparents said they wanted her death to represent something that could prevent other children from suffering.

MORE: The joyful life and tragic death of Baby Ariya

Baker County investigators said her babysitter, Rhonda Jewell, 46, left Ariya unattended in a hot sports utility vehicle for five hours in Macclenny.

“We felt like if we could commemorate Ariya’s name with the safety of other children so that no other family has to go through what our family has gone through,” Paige said.

Senator Jennifer Bradley introduced the bill to the Florida Senate Committee on Children, Families, and Elder Affairs.

“As a mother, I can not even begin to imagine what that family has endured, but their determination and perseverance to make a difference is remarkable,” Bradley said.

After a committee vote, Ariya’s act was unanimously passed, something her mother, Brooke Paige, said made her delighted.

“It makes me feel really happy in my heart that we have people who want to help us through things in honor of Ariya,” Brooke said.

And Ariya’s father, who said his daughter was a daddy’s girl, was impressed by how lawmakers took the initiative seriously.

Although progress was made in helping save other children, the grief from losing Ariya was still present.

“We’re still going through it, and we’ll go through it for years. She was our first born so there will always be that hurt. Always,” Brooke said.

MORE: ‘Justice for Ariya’: Parents of 10-month-old who died in hot car remember ‘daddy’s girl’

Jewell is awaiting trial on a negligent manslaughter charge.

Ariya’s Act will go through other committees before it is presented for a vote in the full Senate.

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