A 3-month-old died on Tuesday after being left inside a car when temperatures reached 102 degrees in Houston, according to Houston Assistant Police Chief Yasar Bashir.
Police said the mother left the child in the car, but Bashir would not say whether the child was forgotten or left in the car intentionally. Police also said how long the child was left in the car was unclear.
Bashir said police were notified around 3:25 p.m. Tuesday of an unresponsive male infant. The infant was transported to a hospital, where doctors pronounced the baby dead. Around the time of the call, the heat index in the Houston area reached 111 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.
The area has been under an excessive heat warning in recent days.
Houston Police said the car was parked at an address belonging to the Southeast Community Service Center, which provides mental health services. The police said the mother was with her 4-year-old child while the infant was left alone.
Bashir said an investigation is underway and did not rule out possible charges against the mother.
"From time to time we have incidents like this which should never happen, especially during summertime," Bashir said. "You should never leave your child unattended, and there should be zero child, infant deaths in the city, in my opinion. That's avoidable."
According to the National Safety Council, there have been 16 deaths so far this year involving children being left in hot cars. Since 1998, the U.S. has averaged 38 deaths of children left in hot cars each year. Texas has led the U.S. with the highest number of child hot car deaths with 142.
According to data gathered by the Department of Meteorology and Climate Science at San Jose State University, 52% of cases involve parents forgetting their children in the car. About 25% involve children gaining access to a car. Another 20% of these deaths were caused by parents knowingly leaving their children in the car.
SJSU researchers say when the air temperature reaches 100 degrees, the inside of a car can reach 145 degrees after an hour. They said keeping a window cracked has "little effect" on temperature.
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