Keri and Larry Volmert had no idea that when they put their 17-month-old daughter Sammie to sleep in her crib on February 28th, 2016, that it would be for the last time. The next morning, the parents made the tragic discovery that their baby had died in her sleep. However, the cause was not sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), but a heater malfunction that the grieving parents are now adamant about creating awareness around.
The night before the Volmert’s devastating discovery, the two parents put their daughter to bed just like they had every other night. The nursery, which is heated and cooled by a separate HVAC system on the second floor, was set to a temperature of 72 degrees. However, an overnight heating system malfunction caused the nursery to exceed 100 degrees.
Keri was in the kitchen the next morning when her husband’s screams immediately signaled that something had gone terribly wrong. The parents tried desperately to resuscitate their daughter after finding her lifeless body, but it was too late. Sammie’s elevated body temperature caused her to die of hyperthermia, which is more likely in cases of children being left in a hot car rather than at home.
Thermoregulation is much poorer in infants and young children in comparison to adults, which caused Sammie to die in her sleep. “She did not make a noise at all,” Keri recalled. “We always heard her if she cried.” While the chances of this malfunction happening may seem slim, the Volmerts quickly discovered that their daughter’s cause of death wasn’t as unlikely as one might think.
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