A tragedy in Mississippi that has universal implications is bringing an important safety message to parents in Montana.

Kira Huck of Safe Kids Missoula describes what happened in Leland, Mississippi on March 9.

“There were three children left alone in an SUV while their parents went inside a convenience store,” said Huck. “While they were left in the car, somehow the vehicle went into motion and went into a flooded creek and two of the children unfortunately drowned while they were inside the SUV.”

Huck said a tragedy like this brings home the message to never leave a child or children alone inside a vehicle.

“We’re just reminding parents and caregivers to never leave children alone in or around cars, not even for a minute,” she said. “For bystanders, if you see a child alone in a vehicle, call 9-1-1.”

Huck acknowledged that there are circumstances that may be tempting to leave the child alone just for a moment.

“I know there are a lot of errands you have to run and it can be a challenge in itself to unload the children from the car,” she said. “Especially when you have multiple children, but you can’t guarantee that they’re going to be safe inside that car by themselves. If you can, use drive through services or if you’re getting gas by paying at the pump so you don’t have to leave the area.”

In any state, a person can face child endangerment or neglect charges for leaving a child alone in a vehicle, even if the state does not have a law specifically making it illegal to leave a child alone in a vehicle.

Safe Kids Missoula urges parents and caregivers to never leave a child alone in a vehicle for any reason.