Hours after the apparent accidental death of a toddler who had been left in a car, the child’s father took his own life, authorities in Virginia said Tuesday.
Chesterfield County police received a call at 11:30 a.m. ET on Tuesday indicating that an 18-month-old boy had been left in an unattended vehicle for several hours, the department said in a statement.
Police then received additional information indicating the child’s father was at his residence in Midlothian, Virginia, making “suicide statements.”
When they arrived, police found the child’s body inside the home “and the adult male dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in the woods behind the residence,” the statement said.
The investigation indicates the “father accidentally left the child in the vehicle for several hours,” the statement said.
“When the father discovered the child deceased in the vehicle, he returned home and took the child inside the residence. He then exited the residence and shot himself,” the statement said.
Police did not specify the cause of death for the infant, but the high temperature in Midlothian, which is about 20 miles west of Richmond, was around 81 degrees Fahrenheit on Tuesday.
On average, 38 children under the age of 15 die from heatstroke each year after being left in a car, according to the National Safety Council.
Children’s body temperatures rise much more quickly than adults, and they can begin to suffer heatstroke when their temperature reaches 104 degrees. A body temperature of 107 degrees can be fatal, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Editor’s Note: If you or a loved one have contemplated suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text TALK to 741741