A 5-year-old boy died inside a sweltering car in Texas Monday while his family was preparing for his older sibling’s birthday celebration later that day.
The child was mistakenly left in the vehicle outside the family’s Harris County home for multiple hours, the local sheriff said, as temperatures outside climbed to 100 degrees.
The boy’s mother had returned home with her two children in the backseat of her car, saw that her 8-year-old hopped out and assumed her younger child exited as well, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.
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 was busy making preparations for the 8-year-old’s birthday party at the time of the little boy’s death.
The mother told police that her son typically knows how to unbuckle himself and exit 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 children car safety — including teaching them how to unbuckle their car seat, honk the horn, turn on the hazards and unlock the 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 U.S. to die from 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 he was left in a hot car for several hours in Pennsylvania.
The temperature in a car can reach over 115 degrees when the outside temperature is just 70 degrees, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Since 1998, 912 children have died in hot cars. In most instances, they were forgotten by a parent or caregiver.