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Is Your Car Trunk A Tomb?

In Utah, five girls climbed into a trunk and shut the lid. Police found them 51 minutes later - all dead from heat exposure. The temperature outside was 96 degrees, making it about 140 degrees inside the car.

This makes a total of 11 children who have died in locked trunks in the last month.

Greig Fennell has been lobbying automakers and Congress for two years on the importance of installing escape latches inside trunks, reports CBS 'This Morning' Co-Anchor Mark McEwen.

Fennell and his wife, Janette, became involved in this issue after being kidnapped and locked in their own trunk in 1996. The Fennells were not only helpless, but had the added worry of wondering what was happening to their 9-month-old son, who was not in the trunk with them.

Mrs. Fennell scrounged around the trunk, ripping up all of the insulation and carpeting, trying to find a way out. Eventually they found a cable that opened the trunk, and they were able to drive back home, where they found their baby unharmed on the front steps of their house.

"What got us going was the police officer at the time...said, 'It never ends like this.' That caused my wife to begin to do research," Fennell explains.

They found 645 cases of people being locked or trapped in their trunks over the last two decades. In 20 to 25 percent of the cases, the person trapped had died.

"Kids love to play hide-and-seek. I have a 3 1/2 year old, and he plays hide-and-seek all the time," says Fennell. "Children will go into a trunk of a car, and they get entombed because there is no escape.

They created a lobby group called Trunk Releases Urgently Needed Coalition (TRUNC). This group has been lobbying for installation of an escape latch with the big automakers. In Congress, only a few representatives on the state level have proposed bills to force the car industry to implement the safety latches, but nothing has become law.

So the Fennells have a Web site where people can find out how to install a makeshift trunk release of their own, along with other suggestions to lobby at the local level.

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