(NEW YORK) — The sweat drips down Terry Bartley’s forehead, cheeks and neck. The North Carolina man sits in his car with the windows rolled up. The temperature outside reaches the upper 80s.
The video, uploaded to YouTube on June 20, serves as Bartley’s message: a “Hot Car Challenge” to parents around the world, motivated by the death of 22-month-old Cooper Harris days earlier.
“I want to know how it feels to be left in the car, sitting in the back seat, strapped into a car seat with the windows up and doors probably locked,” Bartley says in the video clip.
Cooper was left in a SUV for nine hours on a 90-degree day. His father, Justin Ross Harris, is now charged with felony murder and cruelty to a child in the second degree. He has pleaded not guilty, saying he left Cooper in the car accidentally.
That tragedy motivated Bartley to sit inside his car and start recording, even though, by his own admission, he could “barely breathe.”
“Every year, there will always be some fool that wants to leave their kid in the back seat of the car and forget all about them,” he says. “Do you really love you kids? That’s what you should ask yourself.”
At least 17 children have died of heat stroke in hot cars this year alone, according to the website kidsandcars.org. Bartley is hoping his challenge will raise awareness to help prevent any more deaths.
Bartley’s video has been viewed more than 1.1 million times, inspiring others to take the challenge and create their own videos, some of which feature children and dogs.
“I couldn’t believe that there was a lot of people out there that felt similar to the way I felt,” Bartley said.
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