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Father died by suicide after toddler died in hot car, Virginia officials said

Officials in Chesterfield County say the 18-month-old was in the car for at least three hours as temperatures climbed to the upper 80s.

A Virginia man died in an apparent suicide after his toddler was found dead in a hot car Tuesday, police said.

Police discovered an 18-month-old boy and his father dead at a home in Chesterfield County after they received calls about a possibly suicidal man, Lt. Col. Chris Hensley said.

“At some point in time, during the day, the father, who was found deceased in the backyard, had left the child in the car for a period of time, causing them to die,” Hensley said.

Police have not released their names.

Detectives think the toddler was in the car for at least three hours. Temperatures in the region were in the upper 80s Tuesday, police said.

The toddler was expected at day care Tuesday but was not dropped off, Hensley said.

“Things went sideways at some point, and obviously it appears that the father forgot that the child was in the car,” he said, calling the situation “a horrible tragedy.”

“Our hearts go out to the family and friends that are going to deal with this,” Hensley said. “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, 37 children die in hot cars every year from what medical scientists call pediatric vehicular heatstroke, the National Safety Council said in 2018 report.

The Virginia toddler's death is the most recent hot-car death in the U.S., where many states will face a risk of excessive heat through mid-July.

A 5-year-old boy died June 21 in the Houston area when he was left in a parked vehicle for at least two hours while his family prepared for a sibling's birthday party, sheriff's officials said last week.

On June 16, a 3-month-old boy was left in his parents’ car for hours in Upper Saint Clair, Pennsylvania, a township outside of Pittsburgh.

Last month, a Georgia father was charged with second-degree murder in the death of his 8-month-old daughter, who was left in a hot car while he was being arrested at a police station. Police say the man did not tell officials that his daughter was in the car.

If you or someone you know is in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text HOME to 741741 or visit SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources for additional resources.