Teen’s body found in car outside home

The 17-year-old was trying to escape the heat
Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 4:32 PM EDT|Updated: Aug. 24, 2023 at 4:33 PM EDT

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - A teenager died sleeping while in his family’s car Wednesday trying to escape the heat.

The parents of 17-year-old Christian Ruhekenya don’t speak English. One of his younger brothers helped translate and explained what happened.

He said their three window air conditioning units in their rental house on South First Street were not working Wednesday. The family of eight was trying to keep cool. His brother decided to sleep in the car parked in the garage, running the air conditioning to escape the heat.

The brother told me he checked on Christian at 7 a.m. Wednesday, but could not wake him up.

The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office said Christian died shortly before noon. They did not rule on the cause of his death because an autopsy is still pending.

Medical experts warn against sleeping in a running car because of the risk of being exposed to toxic fumes like carbon monoxide.

“They go to sleep and they’re exposed to it and they don’t know they have symptoms and they don’t wake up from it so in those ways you couldn’t really tell which one,” University Hospital ER Doctor Hugh Shoff said.

Police have ruled out foul play.

Paperwork for the car shows it was rebuilt at some point. The family is now trying to get rid of the car, saying they’re afraid of it.