5-year-old boy dies in Texas after being left in hot car for hours

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Deputies in Texas said a young boy died after he was left in a hot car for two to three hours Monday.

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The Harris County Sheriff’s Office posted on Twitter Monday afternoon, saying it was called to a home where a child had died after being left in a car.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez told KHOU that the child’s family had been preparing for his 8-year-old sister’s birthday party. The two children and their mother went to the store to get things for the party, and upon arriving home the mother mistakenly assumed that both children had gotten themselves out of the car, Gonzalez told the station.

The mother realized two or three hours after getting out of the car that her son was missing when she called for him, KTRK reported.

Gonzalez told KTRK that the vehicle the family was using was a loaner, and the mother’s unfamiliarity with the door’s safety locks may have been a factor in the incident, because the 5-year-old did know how to unbuckle himself from the car.

“Most people don’t realize that the majority of the increase in temperature inside of a car happens within the first 10 minutes,” Amber Rollins, with the nonprofit group Kids and Car Safety, told KHOU.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 23 children died in 2021 of vehicular heatstroke. Heatstroke begins when the core body temperature reaches 104 degrees, and a child can die when their temperature reaches 107 degrees.

NHTSA recommends making it a habit to always check your entire vehicle before walking away, and placing a personal item like a purse or briefcase in the back seat as an extra reminder to check before you lock the vehicle.

Sheriff Gonzalez did not say whether the mother will face charges for her child’s death, KTRK reported.