This story contains discussion of suicide. If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
MIDLOTHIAN, Va. – Police in Virginia are investigating the death of a toddler left alone in a hot car for several hours Tuesday and the subsequent death by suicide of the child's father after making the discovery.
According to police reports, Chesterfield County police began receiving calls shortly before noon Tuesday that an 18-month-old boy had died after being left unattended in a car in Midlothian, just west of Richmond. It was not immediately known how long the child was in the car or where the car had been.
Soon after those calls were sent, police began receiving more calls that a man was threatening to kill himself over the child's death. When police responded, they found the child in the house and the man dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in some woods behind the residence.
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"At this point, the investigation indicates the father accidentally left the child in the vehicle for several hours," Chesterfield Police said in a statement. "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."
Lt. Col. Christopher Hensley said police were in touch with the child’s mother and relatives who reported that the boy had not been dropped off at daycare and may be in danger, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported. Police also learned the boy’s father was at his home and was making suicidal statements.
"It’s just a tragedy on so many levels," Hensley said. "Our hearts go out to the family and friends that are going to deal with this."
The police report did not indicate anyone else was involved. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.
There have been six children who have died this time this year as a result of being left in a hot car, USA TODAY has confirmed. The National Safety Council says an average of 38 kids under the age of 15 die annually due to being left in a hot car.
Contributing: Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Virginia toddler left in hot car dies, father dies by suicide: Police