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New York State Cop on Leave After 4-Month-Old Son Left in Car Dies

A New York police officer was on paid administrative leave Tuesday as authorities investigate the death of his 4-month-old son, whose body was found in the officer's car on a warm spring day.

The Oneida County Sheriff's Office said Michael Fanfarillo, the son of 10-year-veteran Rome Patrol Officer Mark A. Fanfarillo, was found unresponsive in his father's car Monday afternoon outside the family's home in the town of Western. The boy was pronounced dead at a hospital, and an autopsy is pending, the sheriff's office said.

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Chief Deputy Sheriff Jon Owens told NBC station WKTV of Utica that it's too early in the investigation to attribute Michael's death to the heat. Temperatures in Oneida County approached 80 degrees Monday, according to the National Weather Service.

IMAGE: Mark Fanfarillo family car
Michael Fanfarillo, 4 months, was found unresponsive Monday in his father's car in the town of Western, New York, on a day when temperatures neared 80 degrees. WKTV-TV via NBC News Channel

Owens said investigators would confer with the district attorney's office to consider whether any charges might be appropriate.

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"Why he left the baby in there, that's all part of the investigation," Owens said. "But, yes, he was the one responsible for the baby at the time there, and he left the child in there for an extended period of time."

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says (PDF) heatstroke in vehicles is the leading cause of all non-crash-related deaths involving children 14 and younger, at 61 percent. Almost a third of those are under the age of 1.