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3-month-old child dies after being left in hot car in Houston, police say

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Police described the incident as tragic but “avoidable”.

A baby boy died Tuesday in Houston after being left in a car amid a dangerous and relentless heat wave, police said.

A mother and her two children arrived in the afternoon for a visit to the Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD in Houston, the public mental health authority for Harris County in Texas. She entered the building with her 4-year-old child but left her 3-month-old alone in the car, according to the Houston Police Department.

When the mother and child returned to the car a little later, preparing to leave, she found her unconscious baby inside. It is unclear how long the child was left unattended in the vehicle and whether it was intentional or by mistake, police said.

First responders arrived on the scene minutes after receiving the 911 call and attempted to save lives. The baby was later taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead, police said.

Houston Deputy Police Chief Yasar Bashir described the incident as tragic but “preventable”, saying it “should never happen”.

“It’s very hot in Houston and under no circumstances should you leave a child in a car, not even for a moment,” Bashir said at a press conference Tuesday night. “Especially an infant or a child, the body temperature rises very quickly”

The Harris County Medical Examiner will perform an autopsy and determine the cause of death.

Authorities could press charges depending on what the investigation reveals, according to Bashir, who noted that both parents are cooperating with detectives.

“We are still only at the beginning of our investigation,” he told reporters. “When a child dies, you want to slow down the investigation and make sure you don’t miss anything.”

Much of Texas was under heat alert on Tuesday as scorching temperatures continued to plague the southern United States. The heat index value — a measure of how hot it feels when relative humidity is combined with air temperature — is expected to reach 108 degrees Fahrenheit in Houston in the afternoon.

Heat index readings are forecast to be around 110 degrees from Texas to Florida through the end of this week. And the latest weather forecast shows no end in sight, with warmer than normal temperatures expected to persist in the south until mid-August.

ABC News’ Melissa Griffin, Michelle Mendez and Gina Sunseri contributed to this report.

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