Two young children were found dead in a hot car Friday afternoon in Parker County, officials said.
The children were identified as a 16-month-old boy and a 2-year-old girl, according to a Parker County Sheriff’s Department news release. The children’s mother found them unresponsive about 4 p.m. in a vehicle in the 200 block of Rambling Loop, west of Lake Weatherford.
The mother had reported that the children “took off” and that she was searching for them in the area when she found them locked inside a small four-door vehicle, according to the news release. She told authorities that the children had gotten into the vehicle and locked themselves inside.
The mother broke a window to gain access to the vehicle, the news release said. The children were pronounced dead at the scene.
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The temperature at the time was about 97 degrees, the warmest day of the year, according to the National Weather Service.
“This case is in the early stages of the investigation,” Sheriff Larry Fowler said in the news release. “Any comment regarding this case at this time would be an assumption until all of the facts are gathered.”
From 1990 through Friday, Texas has had 121 heat-related deaths of children left in vehicles, more than any other state in the nation, according to KidsandCars.org and Star-Telegram research.
This year, eight children have died nationwide after being left in vehicles. Of those, three have been in North Texas, including the two Friday in Parker County.
Before Friday, the most recent death came on April 14 when Kingston Jackson, 1, died after being left in a car in Burleson for more than five hours. Authorities have said that the child’s death appears to be an accident and the Tarrant County medical examiner has not ruled on a cause of death.
Young children, whose bodies can overheat 3-5 times faster than adults, can suffer serious brain injury or death after just minutes of sitting in a hot car, according to KidsAndCars.org.
When it’s 80 degrees outside, the inside of a vehicle can reach 123 degrees in one hour, according to noheatstroke.org. Heatstroke begins when the body temperature reaches 104 degrees.
More than 800 children nationwide died from being left in hot cars between 1990 and 2017, according to Kids and Cars.
Statistics show that nearly 90 percent of the children who died of vehicular heatstroke were 3 years old or younger. Fifty-five percent were 1-year-old or younger, according to Kids and Cars.
And 28 percent of children who die of heatstroke inside vehicles got into the vehicle on their own without their guardians knowing.
Staff writer Lee Williams contributed to this report, which contains information from Star-Telegram archives.