There are parts of cars we expect to break down over time, and there are those we take for granted. The locking mechanism on a door, for example, is surely an example of the latter, but meant the difference between life and death for a 14-year-old girl in Madera, California.

That girl was Graciela Martinez, who apparently died from heat stroke last Wednesday. Although an investigation is still under way, it appears that Martinez fell asleep inside her brother's 1997 BMW 3 Series, parked outside Madera South High School. When she woke up, she was reportedly unable to get out of the car due to a faulty locking mechanism.

Our hearts go out to the Martinez family and Graciela's friends at Madera South High, whose football team is reportedly staging a bake sale to raise money for the funeral expenses. Scroll down below to watch a news report covering the tragedy.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 137 Comments
      S.
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm wondering if waking up after being in a very hot car lead her to disorientation/unable to think clearly? Such a sad story.
      Brian
      • 1 Year Ago
      Anyone who has suffered heat exhaustion knows that you have ZERO energy and cannot think clearly. If I were asleep in a typical backseat with child proof locks, I don't know if I would have figured out that I needed to exit a front door, or break a window, or whatever. Sadly, this unfortunate girl may have been doomed in spite of the BMW 'features'
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      Really tragic, I'm thinking of a million things I could've done to escape a car from the inside. Still, its very sad, I can only imagine how the brother and the rest of the family feels about this. These senseless situations really make you wish you could turn back the clock and do it right.
      Caarz
      • 1 Year Ago
      REALLY A BAKE SALE!?!? sadly ironic...
      Stinkyboy
      • 1 Year Ago
      sad on every level.
      wat
      • 1 Year Ago
      Pro-tip for BMW drivers: If you want to disable the ability for someone inside to open the door while the car is still locked, hit the lock button on the key fob two or more times. Annoying fact: This brother probably hit the lock button like 20 times
        Gordon Chen
        • 1 Year Ago
        @wat
        Some people like me, who are a bit OCD, we would press the lock the door with the keyfob more than necessary amount. I doubt anyone does this intentionally.
      yardie876
      • 1 Year Ago
      I own an '95 E36 and this is completely plausible. This model BMW does not come standard with a key fob. When you turn the key to lock the doors from the outside you CANNOT open the doors from inside. Period. There is no lock/unlock button on these cars not equipped with keyless. There is also no pass though to the trunk and the seats don't fold down. All that doesn't matter since they're no emergency release in the trunk anyway... The horn also does not work when the car is off so she couldn't toot it to signal for help either. The E36 is literally a death trap when locked and her only way out would have been to break the glass, but was probably delirious by the time she woke up, like you all mentioned.
        msmith6791
        • 11 Months Ago
        @yardie876
        When you turn the key to lock the doors from the outside you CANNOT open the doors from inside. BMW needs to be punished for this SEVERELY I wrote BMW, I called BMW. I wrote several politicans INCLUDING, you know FEINSTEIN? Nobody is doing ANYTHING and BMW has not issued ANY public statement Crass people/corporations/politicians the only person who called me back was the sheriff investigator in Madera and he was kind and apologetic - one person with a heart in all of that Screw BMW
      Frisky_Dingo
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is just senseless. On everyone involved's part.
      Philip Gose
      • 1 Year Ago
      This almost happened to my then teenage son several years ago. My daughter at the time drove a 1989 525I with dark tinted windows. They were leaving church for a youth activity and noticed after they left that my son was not in any of the church vans. They called me concerned that he had been left by accident. I drove to the church and couldn't find him around. Ichecked the car and sure enough he was in the hot car locked in and could not get any door to unlock by any method. I tried to help him figure out the locking system but nothing worked. He had tried to kick out the windows but didn't have the strength. I had to use a hammer I had in the truck to break one of the door windows. Key fobs did not work so my daughter always had to use the key to lock the doors from the outside. She learned a valuable lesson, to always double check the car before you locked the doors, and he learned not to set in the car playing gameboy. I checked with the BMW service and they said that system must have malfunctioned and I should bring the car in to be checked.
      waetherman
      • 1 Year Ago
      Not that she necessarily would have known it was there or been in a condition to use it, but this is another reason to have one of those emergency window-breaking clubs in the car; http://www.amazon.com/Seatbelt-Breaker-Emergency-Escape-Tool/dp/B002AMAXNA As for not being able to open the car from the inside, I'm a little surprised by this. My Honda won't open from the inside if the handles are pulled, which is (I suppose) a safety feature that prevents kids from opening the door accidentally while the car is moving. But the electric unlock still works - is that not the case with this BMW?
      Autobiologist
      • 1 Year Ago
      Why she did not hit the horn for help? Why she did not break the glass? She died like a pet trapped in a car!!!
        yardie876
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Autobiologist
        Horn does not function when the car is off unfortunately. It is a beyond stupid design.
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      When adults die its pretty tragic, but when children or teenagers die, its especially heartbreaking. I hope the commentators here can look past the obvious desire to suggest what somebody "should have" done and simply learn from it. Nothing living, children, or pets of any kind should ever be left in a car to wait. There are many stories of incredible tragedies involving pets and children being left in cars. Do the smart thing, don't leave any living creatures or humans in your vehicle.
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