Teenager Graciela Martinez Dies In Family Vehicle And Door Locks May Have Played Role In Her Death

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Graciela MartinezGraciela Martinez

A California teenage girl was found dead in her family’s car at Madera South High School and police believe that the vehicle’s locking system might have contributed to her death.

Police said Graciela Martinez had been taken to the hospital by her brother after he discovered her dead inside the car Wednesday afternoon. Investigators said the girl had gone with her brother to school. He had an early class and she stayed behind in the vehicle because her class started an hour later, according to KSFN-TV.

Investigators examined the car where the 14-year-old died, and believe the teen may have died of heat exhaustion. Police say a preliminary investigation has revealed there may be a problem with the door locks. When the door is locked with the key from the outside, people inside may not be able to get out.

"It appears there may be a defective locking system on the car but we are still need to do further tests to determine if that's true and correct," Robert Salas with the Madera Police Department said.

The vehicle that Martinez died in was a 328i BMW.

KMPH reports that Martinez’ father said he purchased the car about 6 months ago from a private party and nothing was mentioned about the locking system.

KMPH reporter Erik Rosales reportedly found several forums on the Internet from 300 series BMW owners describing a similar problem with the locking system.

One member wrote, "Today I went to lock, an suddenly it locked and now won't unlock. The key feels almost stripped (no resistance). I had to go through my trunk to open the door."

Police said Martinez only weighed 80 pounds and could not break the window.

Sources: KFSN-TV, KMPH