Clark County family to mark 20th anniversary of son's death in hot car

Published: Jul. 12, 2019 at 10:33 PM EDT
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Saturday will mark 20 years since a Clark County child died after he was left in a hot car.

Bryan Puckett was 11 months old when a babysitter left him in a car at the Mist Lake Plaza shopping center in Lexington.

"I don't even remember putting my car in park," said Bryan's mother, Michelle Puckett. "I just jumped out of my car and I ran under the police tape, and I was pushing through the reporters and the cameras because they were already there, and I ran to the police and I started screaming 'Where's my son? Where's my son?'"

It's estimated the temperature inside the car got as high as 165 degrees Farenheight.

"He had been in the car for an estimated 2.5 hours," Puckett said. "I know that they started cooling him at the scene immediately, and when they got him to UK Hospital his core body temperature was still 109 degrees."

Bryan didn't survive. Two decades later, his mother wonders what might have been.

"When his class, or what would have been his class was graduating high school, I was just like 'My son would have been graduating high school,' or he would've gotten his driver's license this year or he would've had his 16th birthday or what kind of car would he have had."

The Pucketts have twin 19-year-old boys now, Kevin and Shawn, who never got to meet their older brother. But they still make sure Bryan is a part of the family.

"We do celebrate his birthday. His birthday is August 10th. We always have cake and ice cream," Puckett said.

The sitter was convicted of manslaughter and Bryan's death sparked action in the Kentucky legislature. A bill known as "Bryan's Law" stiffened penalties for people who leave children in hot cars. Puckett is proud of the law but feels it isn't being used enough to prosecute neglectful parents.

"Until the parents start getting the same punishment that our babysitter did, it's just not going to stop," she said.

According to the National Safety Council, 52 children died in hot cars in 2018, the deadliest year on record in the past 20 years.