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Okaloosa men hope to prevent heat-related car deaths with device

Okaloosa men hope to prevent heat-related car deaths with device

Okaloosa County continues to grieve the death of a 7-week-old child who was left in a car for eight hours on Sunday, July 2.

Two doctors and an engineer, inspired to prevent deaths like these from happening again, came up with a new device to prevent the deaths.

In the back of an unmanned aerial vehicle workshop in Niceville sits a small device without propellers; its inventors want to change the world.

It's been four years since family practice physician Dr. Wayne Justice came up with the idea on a drive home from his brother's house in Alabama.

He brought the idea to his friends, Dr. Kit Kuss and engineer Mark Denney.

"I've never invented anything prior to this. Mark has been in the engineering world for a long time, but this was something that even he was excited about," Dr. Justice said.

One of the major kinks the trio wanted to eliminate were false alarms. It monitors temperatures, has facial recognition cameras and a CO2 monitor, which looks for increasing levels of CO2 in the air. If an alert is needed the device sends it right to your phone.

For them it's a new, different way to combine their strengths and do what they have always done. Denney owns the workshop where the device was made.

"We do a lot of work for the military and our objective is to help the war fighters, to save lives. That's always our objective - to help save lives in whatever capacity that is and this was just another different direction to go," Denney said.

"Well it felt great until Mark made me get in the hot car and test it; we had to see if it would really work. So I was the guinea pig and I got to sit in the car for a while and sweat. And when it worked that's when it hit me. Having it in our hand, but when we saw it worked, that's when it hit me. That's when we were all overjoyed," Dr. Justice said.

Now it's just a matter of getting the device in the hands of the right people, such as mothers like Pamela Sparks.

"I think it's important for parents to purchase that because they are investing in their baby - the life of their child. As far as a baby shower, it depends on the cost, obviously. But I think a parent or relative, grandparent, I think it would be worth the purchase," Sparks said.

The trio hope to have a working model on the market for full scale production in a year's time.

Total cost for a unit is about $100.

If you want to follow their progress, click here.

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