Man dies by suicide after finding toddler dead inside hot car, police say

·2 min read

Local authorities are investigating the deaths of a young child and his father after both bodies were found at their home in central Virginia this week.

Chesterfield County Police said they believe the child, an 18-month-old boy, died after his father unintentionally left him alone inside a car for several hours. Officers discovered the child dead at his family's residence on Tuesday, while responding to reports that suggested a toddler may have been forgotten in an unattended vehicle.

Around the same time, the department also received information about "suicidal statements" made by the child's father. Officers found the father's body in a wooded area behind the house after the child was first discovered indoors, police said. The father's death, by a gunshot wound that was apparently self-inflicted, is being investigated as a suicide.

Police said their early investigation indicates the father shot himself after accidentally leaving the toddler inside his car and later realizing the child had died.

"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," police said.

The toddler's death is the latest in a recent string of similar tragedies. Just last week, a 5-year-old boy died inside a car in Houston, Texas, as temperatures reached 100 degrees. In Georgia, police are investigating the death of a 3-year-old under what appear to be similar circumstances.

Mike Bettes, a meteorologist for The Weather Channel, told "CBS Evening News" anchor and managing editor Norah O'Donnell that if it's 100 degrees outside, the temperature inside a car would be 119 degrees after just 10 minutes. After half an hour, the temperature inside the vehicle would be 134 degrees, which is "unsurvivable for a small child strapped inside a car seat or for pets."

If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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