CAPE CORAL, Fla. – It’s a little device with a big purpose.
Payton’s Charm uses the latest in aerospace technology to help protect children from being left in hot vehicles.
Payton’s Charm detects life in a vehicle, and will notify you on your cell phone if the conditions become too hot and dangerous inside.
The McKinnon family is one that’s full of laughter and love. But, they’re a family with a missing piece.
“She had the best smile. When she would laugh, it was contagious. It would light up the whole room,” mom Julia McKinnon said.
Both Julia and her husband Reggie miss their little girl.
“She was our third child at the time. Had those bright blue eyes like her oldest sister,” Reggie said. “She was just the perfect 17-month-old child at the time.”
March 8, 2010 is a day that couple will never forget.
“That was the moment that changed our lives forever,” Reggie said.
Reggie had left work to take his youngest daughter, Payton, to a doctor’s appointment. He was supposed to drop Payton off at daycare afterwards.
Reggie said on the way back from the appointment Payton had fallen asleep.
“A few hours later, the day had ended and I proceeded to go out to the parking lot,” Reggie said.
When he went to place his laptop in the vehicle, he saw something awful.
“When I opened the back seat to place it in there, that’s when I found Payton still in her car seat,” Reggie said.
Reggie and his wife, Julia, were left not only mourning their baby girl, but also trying to explain to her 3-year-old and 4-year-old sisters that she wasn’t coming back.
“We had explained that there was an accident and that Payton had gone to heaven to be with God and that we wouldn’t be able to see her any more,” Julia said.
All these years later, they are still hurting.
“I knew of the special bond that he shared with Payton,” Julia said about her husband. “Payton was a daddy’s girl.”
Reggie said even though years have passed, he hasn’t stopped thinking about that moment.
“It’s something that I still struggle with today, even nine years later, ” Reggie said. “You know? How could you leave your child in the car?”
But, Reggie and Julia made a promise they would honor Payton’s legacy and help spread awareness about the dangers of hyperthermia.
“The day I lost Payton, it was only an average temperature of 73 degrees,” Reggie said. “It doesn’t take a lot.”
So, when an inventor asked to use Payton’s name on a product that could save other children, they didn’t think twice.
“He contacted me and asked if he could use Payton’s name to help bring awareness and help keep her memory alive, and hopefully prevent it from happening to another family,” Reggie said.
Ben Payment, the creator of Payton’s Charm, said he wanted to create something that could monitor the inside of a car.
“I knew we needed to come up with a solution that monitored the entire inside of a vehicle, and that meant the air,” Payment said. “The air was everywhere inside the vehicle. If we could monitor the air and still detect life, then we would really have something.”
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Payton’s Charm monitors carbon dioxide levels.
“It has the ability to not only detect life and life threatening conditions, but [also] alert someone who is motivated to solve that problem, whether it’s the owner, another loved one, or emergency services,” Payment said.
And with a GPS located in the device, first responders are also able to get to the scene sooner.
These are all things Reggie and Julia know could have made a difference nine years ago.
They’re hoping that their daughter’s legacy, with the help of Payton’s Charm, will help keep other families from going through the pain and the heartbreak they did.
“If you don’t think it can happen to you, you don’t want to keep that mindset,” Reggie said.
Payment said they’re hoping to have Payton’s Charm available by the end of the summer.
If you would like more information on the product, click here.
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