UPDATE: Photos and statement released in New Carlise trunk accident; incident strikingly similar to one in past

By: Kevin Lewis Email
By: Kevin Lewis Email

Questions continue to abound after two half-brothers got locked in a scorching hot car trunk Friday afternoon in New Carlisle. They both later died.

On Sunday, the family released photos of Isaac Dunner, 2, and Dominick Wilk, 4, as well as their first statement since the boy’s tragic deaths.

"Our family has suffered greatly though this tragedy. We are thankful for the support we have received from our family, friends and community. We simply have no way to express the sorrow at the loss of Dominick and Isaac. We humbly ask for the prayers of our community and our neighbors in the days ahead,” Rev. Donald Bayne Jr. of New Carlisle Wesleyan Church said on behalf of the family.

Details should become clearer following the boy's autopsies Monday. Police say they will continue to talk to the family about what may have happened that afternoon.

Upon further digging, NewsCenter 16 learned this isn't the first story of its kind.

In the last forty years, thousands of people have gotten stuck in car trunks, hundreds of whom later died.

Trunk temperatures can easily be 40 degrees warmer than outside, leaving little time to act.

"A four year old boy has died after being found in the trunk of a car,” a KITV anchor in Honolulu said in a recent newscast.

"We’ve uncovered new details about the mother's efforts to find her children and the kid's untimely deaths,” KHSB anchor Craig Cannon read in an evening newscast following the death of two siblings found in a car trunk.

In the last 19 years, 44 American kids have died in car trunks, Friday’s incident in New Carlisle made 46. Each death happened in trunk without an internal release button.

In 2002, Congress passed a law forcing every automaker to install the safety device inside the trunks of new cars.

However, millions of older vehicles on the road continue to drive without the potential life-saving upgrade.

That was the case two years ago in Arkansas when Curtis Markley, 5, and his sister Virginia Markley, 4, died in the trunk of a 2000 Chevy Malibu. That happens to be the exact same year and make of the car Isaac Dunner and Dominik Wilk died in Friday.

"We contacted General Motors and told them ‘you have to bring these older cars back in. Just put in that little glow in the dark trunk release.’ And they ignored our pleas and unfortunately, look what happened on Friday,” KidsandCars.org President Janette Fennell said in a Skype interview with NewsCenter 16.

After a 1999 test study determined kids neglected to find an internal handle half the time, General Motors, which owns Chevy, told Dateline NBC it chose not to use the device for fear it would not be effective.

"It did not work; they [kids] associated that device with something that was hot, so they didn't want to touch it,” General Motors executive Bob Lange said.

Meantime, Ford Motor Company did move ahead, installing release pulls in every model by the year 2000, two years before the U.S. government made it into law.

"Now think about this, if those children had been in the trunk of a Ford vehicle, they would probably be alive today,” Fennell concluded.

To date, General Motors still charges its customers to install safety pulls in their older cars.

Here are some tips to keep your kids safe:

First, lock your car at all times, even when it's in the driveway or garage.

Second, make sure your keys and remote openers are out of children's reach.

Lastly, if your child goes go missing, make sure to check your car and trunk immediately.

Once again, if your car is a 2002 model or newer, your trunk should have an internal release lever; most older model cars do not.

If you'd like to purchase a $10 self-installation safety release kit to prevent another tragedy, just click on the Big Red Bar.

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