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Father kills himself after 18-month-old found dead in hot car

The Independent logo The Independent 29/06/2022 Arpan Rai
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A man in Virginia died by suicide after he found his infant child dead in an overheated car. He had left the child unattented for three hours on Tuesday while he was at work, police officials said.

Officials said the man died of a self-inflicted gunshot injury shortly after finding his 18-month-old child motionless inside the car.

He was found in the woods behind his house.

Authorities were alerted on Tuesday to reach the family’s house. “Upon their arrival, they located the people in the driveway with an open door with an empty child seat in the vehicle. As they made entry into the residence, they found a deceased 18-month-old in the side,” said Chesterfield Police Lt Col Christopher Hensley.

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When police continued to check the perimeter of the residence, “they found an adult male in the wooded area behind the house [with] an apparent gunshot wound”.

Police said they are investigating the death of the toddler and the probe is in its preliminary stages.

Mr Hensley said that the investigation at this point indicated that at “some point in time during the day, the father who was found deceased had left the child in the car for a period of time causing them to die”. The car overheated due to the ongoing heatwave in Chesterfield, according to a local report.

Officials said that when the man found his son dead, he returned home, took the child inside and shot himself.

The toddler’s mother and relatives had got intouch with the police, saying the child may be in danger as he had not been dropped off at the daycare, Mr Hensley said.

Police were also told that the boy’s father was making suicidal statements and that his vehicle could be found at the 14100 block of Aldengate Road.

Calling it a “horrible tragedy on so many levels”, Mr Hensley added, “our hearts go out to the family and friends that are going to deal with this, but we would be remiss in not taking the opportunity for people to take this moment and realise how important it is to obviously check your vehicles as you go through.”

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

If you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The Helpline is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.

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The Samaritans offer support and advice to people feeling suicidal or vulnerable 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Their website is https://www.samaritans.org, email address jo@samaritans.org or call free on 116 123

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