Her son died in a hot car. Now she's hoping to prevent other parents from living that same tragedy.

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Posted at 6:58 PM, Jun 21, 2024

WASHINGTON, Dc. -- A Midlothian mom whose life was upended by tragedy was in Washington, D.C. this week to advocate for federal safeguards to prevent others from experiencing what she had.

"June 28 changed me forever and that's why I'm here today," said Laura Beck on Thursday. "In 8 days, it'll be two years since I lost my entire family. In eight days, all of our family and friends will have relived this horror. And honestly, I relive this gut wrenching nightmare every single day."

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Laura Beck

The day she referred to was when her husband, Aaron, inadvertently left their 18-month-old son, Anderson, in a car seat for several hours. Anderson would die of his injuries and Aaron would die by suicide that same day.

"Anderson was no doubt a mama's boy. But, he adored his papa in the most magical and beautiful way I've ever seen," Beck said "Their bond was so special. And I couldn't help but be in awe at how effortlessly my husband fell into fatherhood."

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Aaron and Anderson

Beck shared her story alongside families with similar ones at a rally hosted by Kids and Car Safety. They also hung onesies to represent every child they said has died in a hot car since 1990 in the U.S.

"1,086 isn't just a number. These are stories of sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandchildren, each with a future life full of promise," said President Jannette Fennell.

The group held the event across from the Department of Transportation to call on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to finalize overdue regulations for equipment in cars they said will prevent hot car deaths.

"No more delays. No more excuses. No more senseless and preventable deaths of children," said Joan Claybrook, an NHTSA administrator in President Jimmy Carter's administration.

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The advocates said NHTSA was directed by a provision in the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to establish new requirements for cars to be installed with rear-seat alerts -- audible and visual reminders for drivers to check the back seat at the end of the trip.

While many automakers pledged to voluntarily have them by 2025 -- advocates said federal requirements are needed and a November 2023 deadline was missed on that.

And they added the alert this system is not the best option and want the final rules to require systems that detect if someone is in the back seat.

"This will ensure that every child and every vehicle in every car trip will be protected by the best technology to prevent death and injury from heatstroke," added Claybrook.

In a statement to CBS 6, NHTSA said its mission is to save lives and it is committed to preventing hot car deaths.

"To prevent these heartbreaking tragedies, NHTSA has initiated rulemaking that would require vehicles to have a system to alert a driver to check the back seat at the end of a trip and is exploring exceeding congressional requirements by evaluating a full range of options that could more effectively address the issue of hot car deaths. In fact, as part of this rulemaking, NHTSA is analyzing more sophisticated technologies to detect and alert parents if a child is in the back seat, as well as actively assessing the effectiveness of the one rear seat occupant detection system the agency has been able to acquire. The agency will continue to test other systems as they are made available to the general public," the agency said, which added it was testing the detection system in the Genesis GV70.

It added it will also study retrofitting existing vehicles with rear-seat alert systems. They said they have also launched an awareness campaign alongside the Ad Council to educate parents on the dangers of hot cars to children and that in Fiscal Year 24, states are "obligated to use a portion of their federal highway safety grant funding for heatstroke prevention activities, such as awareness campaigns."

NHTSA did not say when the final ruling will be issued, but said updates would be posted here.

Meanwhile, advocates like Beck urged the administration to make that its number one priority moving forward and said she would not stop pushing for it, in honor of her husband and son.

"I will always be Aaron's wife and I will always be Anderson's mama. I am their voice. And I will speak their names until my last breath."

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