A father has died by suicide after he accidentally left his son in a car during a heatwave.
The unnamed father from Chesterfield went to work Tuesday morning for around 3 hours. During this time, it is speculated by police that he forgot to drop his 18-month-old son off at daycare and left him in the car. The daycare the infant usually stays at called police on the particularly hot Virginia day after realizing that the dad never dropped him off — but unfortunately it was too late.
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Along with reports from the daycare, the distressed family of the infant called police. Apparently, the father had been in contact with them and was making “suicidal statements” after he had discovered his deceased son in the back of his car. Chesterfield Police Lt. Col. Christopher Hensley said that when police arrived, they found the body of the 18-month-old, but the father was nowhere to be found:
“Upon their arrival, they located the people in the driveway with an open door with an empty child seat in the vehicle. As they made entry into the residence, they found a deceased 18-month-old.”
It wasn’t until later, around noon, they found the body of the dad — right where the family said he would be. When he had contacted his family before and made those “suicidal statements”, he apparently disclosed the location ahead of time. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. So sad…
Police are still investigating this case, but they believe that after the man unintentionally left his son in the car he couldn’t bear living with what he did — and he took his own life:
“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.”
Chesterfield police extended their condolences to the family in a public statement, but also stressed how sadly common this is:
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends that are going to deal with this, but we would be remiss in not taking the opportunity for people to take this moment and realize how important it is to obviously check your vehicles.”
On average, 38 children under the age of 15 will die of a heat stroke each year due to being left in a vehicle. A meteorologist for the Weather Channel, Mike Bettes, said to CBS News that temperatures in cars rise quickly. If it is 100 degrees outside, within 10 minutes it will be 119 degrees in a vehicle. Not only that, a child’s body temperature rises 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s does — meaning they’re even more at risk for heat-related injuries and death.
The National Highway Safety Transportation Administration released a list of advice to help prevent tragedies like this from happening:
- Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle
- Make it a habit to check your car before walking away
- Ask your child’s daycare to call if your child doesn’t show up
- Place your personal items in the backseat
- Store your keys out of a child’s reach
Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of the father and infant.
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