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Graciela Martinez Found Dead in Hot Car After Faulty Locks Trap Her Inside

We are saddened to learn of the death of Graciela Martinez, 14, of Madera.

Graciela, 14, was found dead inside a hot car after faulty locks trapped her inside. Her brother drove her to school at Madera South High early in the morning. His school day started an hour before hers, so he left her alone in the vehicle. She had no cellphone, food, or water with her. At the end of the school day, he returned to his car, a BMW, to find his sister pale, sweaty, and unresponsive in the back seat. He rushed her to the hospital, where she was pronounced dead. The temperature in the car when Graciela was found was over 130 degrees.

An autopsy determined that Graciela Martinez likely died from “environmental hyperthermia”, also known as heat stroke.

An investigation revealed a potential problem with the locks installed in the 1997 300 series BMW, which prevented her from escaping the car. The car was also designed to disable the horn if there is no key in the ignition, preventing Graciela Martinez from alerting others. Graciela weighed only 80 pounds and could not break the car windows. Graciela’s father said he purchased the car used, less than a year before this tragic incident, and the previous owner did not mention any problems with the locking system.

A search of internet forums indicate that other BMW owners experienced similar problems with the car’s locking system. One owner commented, “Today I went to lock, and suddenly it locked and now won’t unlock. They key feels almost stripped (no resistance). I had to go through my trunk to open the door.”

Graciela is the second oldest of six children in her family.

Full story here: