Dikeisha Whitlock-Pryer, mother of RJ Pryer
On April 28, 2015 we became the proud parents of Raymond Darnell Pryer Jr. better known as RJ. He was my love bug, my 1st born. He was daddy’s little man and Raymond’s 1st son (his Jr). RJ was also an amazing gift from God being that I was told I would never conceive nor carry a baby to full term. Instead of celebrating his 7th birthday today, we’re here advocating for an occupant detection system in all new cars. This type of technology existed when RJ died, but it wasn’t in the daycare vehicle he died in. On July 19, 2018 RJ was found near the back of a daycare van, lifeless. His daycare provider left him in the van that day and he died from heatstroke. RJ’s daycare driver walked around the bus, opened the backdoor and disarmed the bus alarm that was in place to ensure that the driver’s checked to be sure all children had gotten off. An alarm was not enough to save my son’s life. WE NEED OCCUPANT DETECTION to prevent hot car tragedies. If RJ’s daycare vehicle had occupant detection, I’d be gearing up for my son’s 7th birthday celebration right now. Instead, I am here talking to you. I don’t want to be here. But, what I don’t want even more than that is being here and knowing that if occupant detection is not added to vehicles, another family will have to suffer this unbearable loss. Children do NOT have to die in hot cars. Occupant detection technology exists that can stop it. What are we waiting for? Today, I am asking Secretary Butigeig – from one loving parent to another – to join us in eliminating these preventable deaths by moving forward the hot car rule-making as quickly as possible. Thank you so much for hearing my story and my plea. And, happy birthday RJ. Mommy misses you!