Sub SB 215, the “Good Samaritan” bill, was hit out of the ball park yesterday by the Ohio House Judiciary Committee vote, 13 – 0. It was already on base, ready for action! The Senate had unanimously passed it. It is now rounding the bases and is headed for home plate!
Sub SB 215 allows individuals to rescue children and pets in danger in unattended vehicles. This bill can save lives, children’s and pets’. Individuals that break a window or forcibly enter a parked car to rescue a child or a pet in danger, are immune from civil damages, provided that they take certain, common sense measures.
These reasonable measures are: (1) Determine the vehicle is locked. (2) Believe the child or the pet is in danger. (3) Call 9-1-1, the police, or the fire department before entering the car. (4) Place a note on the windshield with contact information, the reason the entry was made, the location of the child or pet, and stating that authorities have been notified. (5) Remain with the child or pet until authorities arrive. (6) Use no more force than necessary to break into the vehicle.
On the other hand, Sub SB 215 is also a far-sighted bill that anticipates that a person who is “recklessness or willful … with regard to the forcible entry of the motor vehicle” will not be exempt from damages.
There are at least twenty-two states (AZ, CA, DE, FL, IL, ME, MI, MD, MN, NB, NV, NH, NJ, NY, NC, ND, NV, OK, PA, RI, SD, TN, UT, VT, WA, and WV) with legislation that specifically prohibits leaving an animal or a child in a confined vehicle, in conditions which endanger the life of the animal or child, like lack of adequate ventilation or extreme temperatures.
Cars can be deathtraps for children and pets. In 2014, there were 32 children nationwide who died horrendous deaths in hot cars, according to the organization Kids and Cars. Additionally, pets can suffer heatstroke and brain damage in minutes in a hot car or be impaired by frost bite and hypothermia, leading to their deaths, in a frigid car.
Last year in Cincinnati, where I live, there were two reports of animals dying in vehicles. One dog died a terrible death, trapped in a sweltering car in Clifton in the summer. A second dog died overnight in plummeting temperatures, left in the back of an SPCA van. Additionally, there was an eight-month old infant that died in a hot car in a parking lot in Central Ohio, last summer, while her mother shopped.