Va. Dad Dies by Apparent Suicide After His 18-Month-Old Son Dies in Car: 'This Is a Horrible Tragedy'

Officials suspect heat may be to blame, though an official cause of the toddler's death has not been released

A Virginia man appears to have died by suicide after discovering his child had accidentally died inside his car, according to authorities.

The Midlothian father and his 18-month-old son were both found dead Tuesday at the father's home, according to a news release from the Chesterfield County Police Department.

Police said the father, identified by ABC affiliate WRIC-TV as a 37-year-old, was located in the woods behind his home after his death.

Earlier in the day, the father found his son dead in his car, which he had parked outside his place of employment for at least three hours, the outlet reported, citing police.

It is unclear if the child died of a heat-related illness, but police said they are considering the child's death an accident.

"This is a horrible tragedy on so many levels, and our hearts go out to the family and friends that are going to deal with this," said CCPD Lieutenant Colonel Chris Hensley, according to WRIC-TV.

The CCPD was first informed of the toddler's death shortly before noontime on Tuesday, according to the department's news release.

Police said they were also told the man was "making suicidal statements" shortly before they found him deceased behind his home, according to the release.

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Hensley told reporters Tuesday that the adult victim informed a family member about his son's death shortly after finding the child in his car, WRIC-TV reported. Police believe the child was left inside the car for at least three hours, per the outlet.

Police said the father brought his son inside the home before he died of apparent suicide in the backyard.

Hensley told reporters that police "located a vehicle in the driveway with an open door and an empty child seat" inside upon arriving at the scene.

Though it is unclear how the child died, officials suspect heat may be to blame. Temperatures in Midlothian were in the 70s, according to WRIC-TV, which can rise to the 100s when sitting in the sun.

A body temperature of 107 degrees can kill a child, though heatstroke can begin when the body reaches 104 degrees, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

"A child's body temperature rises three to five times faster than an adult's. When a child is left in a hot vehicle, that child's temperature can rise quickly — and they could die within minutes," the administration says on its website.

At least seven child heatstroke deaths have been reported in 2022, according to the National Security Council.

"This happens almost every year," Hensley said Tuesday, per WRIC-TV, "and all we can do is try and take a negative event like this and turn it into a positive so that people take that moment, learn and pause."

An investigation into Tuesday's incident is ongoing. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Chesterfield County Police Department at 804-748-1251, via Crime Solvers at 804-748-0660, or through the P3 app.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to

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