As she went to pump gas on a hot Tuesday afternoon, Katie Corbin says she left her 1-year-old son Joey, her cellphone and a key fob inside her 2018 Chevy Malibu.
It proved to be frightening mistake.
In her interview with WXYZ, the Michigan mother said she “thought that having a keyless entry car meant that I could leave my key in my car while I went and pumped gas.”
But as she quickly learned, that was not the case. Corbin told WNEM that she heard the doors lock after closing them — and realized she had no way to get her son outside of the car, which was sitting in the shade but was still hot on the 90-degree day.
“At this point, I’m panicking,” she recalled to WXYZ. “It’s 92 degrees outside.”
A person at the gas station called 911, WNEM reported, and police arrived on the scene within 10 minutes to free the boy parked at the gas station in Lansing.
Now Corbin is issuing a warning for others with a similar key system. The woman said she called the car dealership where she bought her car last month, WNEM reported, and learned that the key fob can lock a car from inside if it is left within something like a purse. The dealership said it’s because the fabric can cut off the signal of the key fob.
The mom was also told to turn off the passive lock settings, which have a car door automatically lock when a person holding a key fob exits the vehicle, according to WILX.
In sum, Corbin has five words of wisdom for other parents with similar key fobs.
“Be careful,” she told WXYZ. “Don’t trust technology.”
Despite the unsettling moments, Corbin said she can still remember the sense of comfort that seemed to wash over Joey once he was taken out of the car, WILX reported.
“He was just pouring sweat and I got him out and he stopped crying immediately just laid his head on my chest,” she told WILX. “I just squeezed him and held him.”
The New York Times reports that such “keyless cars” have also led to the death of around two dozen people since 2006 from carbon monoxide poisoning.
The newspaper shared stories from people such as Timothy Maddock, a Florida man who suffered brain injuries after his girlfriend, Chasity Glisson, accidentally left her car running in the garage over night and carbon monoxide spread through their home. Glisson died.
And leaving kids in a hot car is dangerous, too.
More than 36 children die every year in the U.S. from being left in a hot car, according to the organization Kids and Cars. Forty-three children died from heatstroke after being left in a hot car in 2017, the group estimated.