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11-Year-Old Texas Boy Invents Device to Prevent Hot Car Deaths

by Kristen Dahlgren and Daniel Arkin /  / Updated 
Image: Bishop Curry, 11, invented a device that would sense if a child is left alone in a car
Bishop Curry, 11, invented a device that would sense if a child is left alone in a car.NBC News

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Bishop Curry looks for ways to fix the world.

For an 11-year-old boy, he's unusually curious about big-picture problems, his dad says — from natural disasters to civil rights. And he's always loved to tinker.

That's why it wasn't a surprise when Bishop, after seeing an upsetting local news report about a 6-month-old who died when left in a hot car, resolved to make sure something like that never happened again.

"I was like, 'This would be my one-way shot to actually helping people,'" Bishop told NBC News.

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So Bishop, in his McKinney, Texas home, drew a mock-up of a device that would sense if a child is left alone in a car. The device, attached to a headrest or car seat, would then alert parents' phones and the police — all while blowing cold air until help arrives.

He calls the device "Oasis."

"It's like texting," Bishop said. "But without emojis."

His dad, an engineer at Toyota also named Bishop Curry, was immediately sold on the idea: "My thought was, 'Why isn't this in stores now?'"

Toyota was so impressed by Bishop's idea that it sent him and his dad to Michigan for a safety conference.

For all the attention, Bishop won't soon forget the tragedy that inspired his invention.

Fern, the 6-month-old baby girl who had died in an overheated car, lived nearby. Bishop passed by her family's house all the time on the way to school.

Since the tragic incident, Bishop has met with Fern's parents.

"They really supported me," he said. "They didn't want anything [like that] to happen to any other families."

Since 1994, 804 children have died from heat-related illnesses in cars in the U.S., according to Kids and Cars, an advocacy center that studies the issue.

In approximately 55 percent of those cases, the parent was unaware the child was in the vehicle, they say.

Related: The Psychology Behind Unintentional Hot Car Deaths

Oasis may be inching closer to becoming a reality: Supporters have have donated upwards of $31,000 to an online fund to help secure a patent for the device.

"People are donating to a belief," said Bishop's dad. "A belief that the world can change through one child."

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