A 5-year-old boy in Texas died Monday after being left in a sweltering car for several hours as the child’s family prepared for his sibling’s birthday party, authorities said.
The boy, who was not identified, was in the car for two or three hours and pronounced dead at the scene, according to Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
The boy’s mother returned home with an 8-year-old child and the younger sibling, who was “strapped in a child safety seat in the back,” according to a post on Gonzalez’s Facebook page.
The older sibling exited the car and the mother “assumed the other child was out also,” Gonzalez said.
The 5-year-old typically knows how to unbuckle himself, but the vehicle was a “loaner car,” Gonzalez said.
The boy remained in the safety seat while his family was making preparations to celebrate the older sibling’s birthday party later on Monday, Gonzalez said.
After two or three hours passed, Gonzalez said, the boy’s mother realized the 5-year-old was missing, and she ran to the car and saw he was still in the safety seat.
A representative with the sheriff’s office on Tuesday said the case is ongoing and investigators will meet with county prosecutors to present findings.
NBC affiliate KPRC of Houston reported that high temperatures in the area on Monday hovered around 100 degrees.
But it was not immediately clear based on statements from the sheriff’s office what time deputies responded and found the child dead.
A representative with the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences said the child’s cause and manner of death was not immediately available Tuesday morning.
Even if windows are left slightly open, the temperature inside a car can reach 125 degrees in minutes, and a child’s body overheats up to five times faster than an adult’s, according to KidsAndcars.org.
The organization recommends caregivers place an object in the front seat to remind them of a child in the back, and to always check the back seat for people or pets. It also says cars should remain locked so that children cannot get inside.
Monday’s incident is just the latest in which a child has died after being left in a hot car.
A 3-month-old boy in Pennsylvania died Thursday after he was left in his parents’ car “for several hours,” police said.
A 1-year-old died in Tennessee on May 19 — a day when temperatures reached 91 degrees — after being found in a vehicle outside a Memphis day care center, police said.
Weeks before that, an 8-month-old girl in Georgia died after she was left in a car for hours on May 3 while her father was being arrested at a Snellville police station.
Elisha Fieldstadt contributed.