Emily Baucum, News On 6
FORT GIBSON, Oklahoma – The sizzling weather is turning cars into ovens. Police officers are on the lookout for children sitting in hot vehicles while parents run errands.
Just this week, Bradley Matlock, a coach for the Inola school district, was arrested for leaving his two kids inside the car while he popped into a Fort Gibson casino.
Matlock's friends reached out to News On 6 to say there's more to the story. They say he's a good dad who really just went inside the casino for a few minutes.
Officers say look at the big picture: even one minute inside a roasting car can be deadly.
Fort Gibson Police say video cameras rolled as Matlock left his six and nine year old boys inside the car and went inside the casino.
"They said five to eight minutes. Something like that," Sergeant Bryan Waters said.
News On 6 wanted to see that security video, but the Cherokee Casino doesn't share surveillance footage and doesn't comment on police investigations.
Sergeant Bryan Waters said Matlock cooperated with police and apologized for his actions.
"Said he didn't know what he was thinking. Said he was just going to run into the casino, swipe his card. He thought he'd be there, at the most, one to two minutes," Sergeant Waters said.
The incident highlights what Sergeant Waters calls a troubling trend: more parents heading to casinos and leaving the kids in the hot car.
"I believe Tahlequah had one last week or so ago, the exact same thing," he said. "Somebody went to the Cherokee Casino over there, left their kids in the car, got took to jail for it."
Parents we caught up with say a quick errand is just not worth the risk if you get sidetracked.
"It only takes a minute," Carissa Kiffmeyer, a driver, said. "It's inappropriate. It's advertised every summer. They talk about - do not leave your kids in the car."
Sergeant Waters said while he was arresting Matlock, he noticed another casino customer left a dog inside a hot car in that same parking lot. Waters says he gave that driver a warning and pointed out pets are just as vulnerable to the extreme heat.