— BMW North America is the target of a lawsuit that alleges a 14-year-old California girl died as the result of a “double-locking mechanism” that made it impossible to open the locked car doors from the inside.
The lawsuit was filed by the family of Graciela Martinez, 14, who died from heat stroke and hyperthermia while locked inside a 1997 BMW 328i.
Graciela had arrived at school with her sister and brother in the BMW but decided to take a nap before her first class of the day. Her brother, Oscar Martinez, had driven the three to school and didn't want his sister disturbed during her nap, so he locked the car from the outside.
He locked the car at approximately 7:45 a.m. and found his unresponsive sister locked inside the car at about 3 p.m. Witnesses said Graciela was pale and didn't have a pulse. Graciela Martinez was pronounced dead a short time later.
Calling the 1997 BMW 328i a death trap, the lawsuit claims the car was made with an anti-theft “double-locking mechanism” that prevented the ability to open doors from the inside if they were locked from the outside. The lawsuit also says Graciela couldn't even honk the horn to alert anyone because the horn is disabled when the key is out of the ignition.
The Martinez family is represented by attorney, Warren R. Paboojian.
Child Heat Stroke in Cars
The death of Graciela Martinez is a grim reminder of the dangers of heat stroke occurring in a hot car, even with a teen. Most fatalities occur to children under two years old, and while there are devices meant to protect children from heat stroke in a car, read why you shouldn't depend on technology to protect a child.