'Ariya's Act' to prevent infant deaths in hot cars ready for floor in Florida Legislature

'She was such a sweet baby,' Pamela Paige says. 'She was just forgotten.'
Posted at 3:53 PM, Feb 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-09 15:56:04-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — It's a small step, but supporters hope one that will save lives.

Lawmakers this week advanced bills designating April as "Hot Car Death Prevention Month." The legislation passed its last two committees Thursday and is now ready for a floor vote in both chambers.

Called "Ariya's Act," the idea is named after a Baker County 10-month-old Ariya Paige, who died of heatstroke last year. Authorities said a babysitter left the child inside a non-running vehicle for more than five hours. Temperatures inside the SUV exceeded 130 degrees.

If Gov. Ron DeSantis signs "Ariya's Act," the policy would encourage local governments and state agencies to host events and awareness campaigns about hot-car deaths during April. Topics would be focused on safety, the criminal penalties possible and the power bystanders have to help.

Ariya's grandmother, Pamela Paige, was hopeful the change was coming.

"She was such a sweet baby," Paige said. "She was just forgotten. This bill — it won't bring Ariya back, but it'll guarantee she will never be forgotten again."

Both House and Senate versions of the bill have cleared their committees with unanimous support. It's a solid sign the legislation will reach the governor's desk in the coming weeks. His signature would make its provisions effective immediately.

"People are still doing this," Paige said. "They need to know the dangers of leaving children unattended in vehicles— the penalties around it. Just something — something to deter this from happening again."