A five-year-old Texas boy tragically died on Monday (June 20) after being left in a car for hours while his mother prepared for his older sister's birthday party.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez revealed to ABC13 KTRK that the mother was in a rush when she arrived home with her son and her eight-year-old daughter following a shopping trip.
Reportedly distracted by party preparations, the mom and her daughter exited the vehicle, while her son remained strapped to his seat for hours before she realized he was still in the car.
"[The mother was] excited, trying to get things together, and unfortunately this time the child did not make it out," Gonzalez said. "Again, with the business of the activities that they were preparing for it took them a while to notice that the child wasn't in the house."Watch the news report below:
Per People, the senior deputy at the Harris County Sheriff's Office Thomas M. Gilliland disclosed that the boy was pronounced dead in the family's driveway. Following the tragedy, it is unclear if the mother will face charges.
"Homicide and Child Crimes-investigators were notified and responded to the scene," Gilliland said. "The case is still open and active, and investigators will meet with the Harris County District Attorney's Office to present their findings of the investigation."
The sheriff said that the mother was driving a rental vehicle, explaining that it was likely the child was not familiar with the vehicle. Gonzales also added that the car didn't have any kind of child safety lock enacted.
As reported to CNN, the boy's death was due to experiencing a heatstroke after being left in a car as temperatures in Houston reached a record-breaking high of 101 degrees on Monday.
According to National Safety Council (NSC), on average, 38 children under the age of 15 die each year from heatstroke after being left in a vehicle. A child's body temperature rises more quickly than adults, and they can begin to suffer heatstroke when their temperature reaches 104 degrees.
Texas Child Protection Services told KTRK that five children have died in Texas this year due to heat exposure after being left in cars.
Children dying in hot cars is a continuous issue throughout the year, and almost every state has recorded an incident since 1998, according to data compiled by Jan Null, a lecturer at San Jose State University.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that guardians never leave children isolated in a car, even if the car is running with the air conditioning on, or if the windows are cracked/open.