Boy, 3, was supposed to be taking a nap with dad, authorities say.
A 3-year-old Guadalupe County boy, discovered dead in the family car Sunday, likely slipped away from his napping dad and climbed into the car on his own, authorities said.
The investigation isn't finished, but Sheriff Arnold Zwicke said interviews and preliminary autopsy results point toward a tragic accident.
The family home is located in a rural area between New Berlin and La Vernia.
“The boy and his dad were supposed to be taking naps while mom was doing something at church,” Zwicke said. “The little one got up while dad was asleep and got out of the house and got into the car. All evidence right now leans toward it being accidental.”
When the boy's mother returned home, she asked about the boy. His father, not knowing the toddler had slipped away, went to the boy's room to wake him, only to find an empty bed.
The parents made the heart-wrenching discovery moments later, Zwicke said. The car wasn't locked.
The exact time of death hasn't been determined. The 911 call came in to the sheriff's office shortly before 5 p.m.
Temperatures reached 98 degrees Sunday, meaning the heat was above triple digits inside the car.
Kids and Cars, a Kansas-based advocacy organization, said it was the fourth such death in Texas and 10th in the country so far this year.
An 18-month-old girl died in a hot car in Hidalgo County on Saturday; a 1-year-old Austin girl died on May 25; and 6-month-old Mya Wallace of New Braunfels died on March 8. In each instance, those children were left alone in hot cars by drivers.
Last year, 49 children died from hyperthermia, said Johnny Humphreys, chairman of the Texas Task Force of Safe Kids USA's “Never Leave Your Child Alone in a Car” campaign. Safe Kids USA is a Washington-based advocacy group.
Nearly a third of the heat-related child fatalities, Humphreys said, occur when a child slips away unnoticed and gets into a car, ultimately succumbing to the heat.
His organization offers several suggestions to keep children safe:
Drivers should always lock car doors and trunks, regardless of the situation.
Keys should be kept away from children.
Children should not be allowed to play in cars.
When a child is missing, vehicles and trunks should be checked first.