Pennsylvania State Police have responded to at least 57 incidents this year of kids being left alone in cars at gaming facility parking lots.
There is a particular concern given the high, humid weather experienced in the recent weeks. Last week, central Pennsylvania experienced high temperatures in the 90s, and some of the states issued an ominous heat warning.
“Especially, for now, don’t leave your child in the car,” Grace Griffaton, Pennsylvania State Police Communication Director, warns. “It is very hot outside. In ten minutes, the temperature of the car can rise by 20 degrees.”
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, so far, a total of 12 kids have died this year after being left or getting trapped in a hot car in various locations in the United States.
In Pennsylvania, security guards are not at the casino lots round the clock looking over for kids. They are on duty as time allows.
However, if toddlers or children are alone in vehicles and can’t open doors, a trooper can break into the car to rescue them.
Furthermore, every trooper has training in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation. That allows guards to offer immediate assistance to an injured kid. Casinos usually have EMTs onsite to help security guards who aid kids.
Those players who leave kids unattended in a car will likely be placed on Pennsylvania’s exclusion list. That means they will not be allowed back into the casino.
In April, Jamelia Mack allegedly was put on the list after reportedly leaving her 5- and 12-year-old kids unattended in a car for two hours while at Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino. In another case, Samy Hassan was allegedly put on the list in July after leaving an 11-year-old kid unattended at Bethlehem’s Wind Creek Casino for over two hours.
One is also likely to face criminal charges. For instance, a 28 years man Zachary Bohinski, a pastor at Fells Methodist Church in Rostrevor, now faces two cases of endangering a child’s life and disorderly conduct. That is after leaving two kids in a car unattended at Pittsburgh Live Casino, as reported by a local TV station, KDKA.
KDKA stated that while his daughters were in the car, Bohinski, on July 31, went into the property’s Guy Fieri’s restaurant and ate an order of trash can nachos. He then won $1,600 on the slots.
Bohinski eventually went back to his car about a half-hour later. Guards were waiting for him. He claimed to have left the air condition on, though the police still charged him.
Good Samaritans Protected
According to the Pittsburg Tribune-Review, a new state law was enacted in Pennsylvania in 2019 that allows good Samaritans to break into a hot vehicle if kids are stuck inside with locked doors. The report stated that the rescuer would be protected from liability if the child is in inevitable danger. The civilian rescuer must first try to locate the owner of the car and emergency responders. However, the guards should not apply excessive force during the rescue.
Prior Unattended Kids in Cars
That is far from the only incident of players at casinos leaving kids alone in a vehicle while adults go to gamble.
Last month, an Illinois man was arrested after reportedly leaving a 7-year-old boy in a vehicle parked at Des Plaines’ Rivers Casino.
According to an Illinois newspaper, the Daily Herald, John Elliott, 44, of Schiller Park, III., was charged with endangering the welfare of a child following the Rivers Casino episode. Elliott reportedly left the boy in the car. Then, around 20 minutes later, the boy climbed out of the vehicle. A security guard found him.