(CHESTERFIELD, Va.) -- A Virginia father died by an apparent suicide after finding his son dead inside his hot car, authorities said.
It appears the father accidentally left the 18-month-old in the car for at least three hours on Tuesday, leading to the child's death, Lt. Col. Christopher Hensley of the Chesterfield Police Department said at a news conference.
When the boy didn't arrive at daycare, the father apparently realized the toddler was in his car, Hensley said.
Around noon, family members called police to report that the father was talking about dying by suicide in the woods behind his house. The father was the only person home at the time, Hensley said.
Responding officers found the car in the driveway with an open door and an empty child seat, Hensley said.
Officers went into the home where they found the dead 18-month-old boy, he said.
As officers continued to check the perimeter, they found the father dead in the woods from an apparent gunshot wound, he said.
Hensley called it a "horrible tragedy on so many levels."
This marks the eighth child to die from a hot car this year, according to national nonprofit KidsAndCars.org. More than 1,000 kids have died from hot cars since 1990, the organization said.
Click here for tips on how to keep children safe from hot cars this summer.
If you are struggling with thoughts of suicide or worried about a friend or loved one, help is available. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 [TALK] for free, confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
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