A 5-year-old boy died in a sweltering car in Texas on Monday as his family prepared for his older brother’s birthday celebration later in the day.
The child was mistakenly left in the vehicle outside the Harris County family home for several hours, the local sheriff said, as temperatures outside soared to 100 degrees.
The boy’s mother had come home with her two children in the backseat of her car, saw her 8-year-old had jumped out and assumed her youngest child had also gotten out, the Harris County Sheriff said , Ed González.
She realized two to three hours later that he was missing and ran outside to find her son still strapped into a child safety seat in the back of the car. EMS was called and pronounced the young boy dead at the scene.
The family were busy preparing for the 8-year-old’s birthday party when the little boy died.
The mother told police her son usually knew how to untie himself and get out of the car, but the car he died in was a loaner vehicle, Gonzalez said.
Police said the investigation is ongoing.
A day after the boy’s death, the Harris County Sheriff’s Office tweeted tips to teach kids about car safety – including teaching them how to unbuckle their car seat, honk their horn, turn on hazards and unlock front doors.
The advisory came with the note that this month is on track to be the hottest June on record.
The 5-year-old is the fifth child in the United States to die of heatstroke after being left in a car this year, according to meteorologist Jan Null, who has been tracking such deaths since 1998.
His death is also the second such fatal incident in less than a week. Last Thursday, a 3-month-old baby died after being left in a hot car for several hours in Pennsylvania.
The temperature inside a car can reach over 115 degrees while the temperature outside is only 70 degrees, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Since 1998, 912 children have died in burning cars. In most cases, they have been forgotten by a parent or caregiver.