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Monday, 23 September 2013 16:37

California Teen Dies in Locked-Car Tragedy

The death of a California teen is under investigation after she was found dead inside a locked car, and police suspect a jammed lock may have led to the teen’s death. The 14-year-girl was found dead inside a very hot car, where temperatures reached 130 degrees, after faulty locks apparently left her trapped inside.

Graciela Martinez was found dead in the backseat of her brother’s BMW outside Madera South High School in Madera, CA, hours after he had gone inside to class.

He drove his sister to school that morning and left her alone in the vehicle because he had a 6.40 am class while her first lesson began at 7.40 am. She had no cellphone, food or water with her. When he and another sister finished classes at the end of the day, they found Graciela white and unresponsive in the back seat.

“They took her to the hospital but they couldn’t save her,” said the victim’s sister, Patricia Martinez.

Police said it now appears the Madera South freshman was accidentally locked inside her car and was unable to escape.

“People don’t think of that, I don’t think of that even after this investigation started, that was the furthest thing from my mind,” said Madera detective Dan Foss.

But things quickly changed when Foss made a disturbing discovery about the car’s locking system. He said investigators found the doors will sometimes lock on both the inside and outside when the key is used, disabling the horn and making it almost impossible to escape.

“Would she feasibly be able to get out of the car? It would be very difficult, she would have to try very hard,” Foss said.

Officers demonstrated how the car can unknowingly turn into a death trap. Investigators said Graciela’s brother was unaware of the risk when he locked her in only to find her dead hours later.

“It’s just sad, you never really know when it is going to happen.” said classmate Brandon Hernandez.

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