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Virginia dad kills self after toddler son found dead in car, police say

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RICHMOND, Va. — Police are investigating the death of an 18-month-old boy who died Tuesday after being left unattended in a vehicle for several hours. The boy’s father later committed suicide, Chesterfield County police said.

“It’s just a tragedy on so many levels,” said police Lt. Col. Christopher Hensley. “Our hearts go out to the family and friends that are going to deal with this.”

Officers began their investigation at 11:42 a.m. after receiving reports of a child being left in a family vehicle.

Hensley said police were in contact with the child’s mother and relatives who said the boy may be in danger after they learned he had not been dropped off at day care. The family indicated to police that the boy’s father was making suicidal statements, police said.

Police were told the vehicle may be located at the father’s home in the 14100 block of Aldengate Road.

“Other people contacted us [and said] we needed to respond to that address, to check on his welfare, and that’s when things unfolded,” said Hensley

Officers discovered the vehicle, but nothing was inside except an empty car seat, Hensley said.

Police then entered the home, where they found the 18-month-old boy dead. The boy’s father was discovered shortly after in the woods behind the house with an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Hensley said police believe the father left the child in the vehicle for several hours before discovering the boy was dead. When he discovered the child, he returned home, took the child inside, exited his home and shot himself, police said.

Authorities have not released the identities of the father and son.

Anyone with information is asked to call police at (804) 748-1251 or Crime Solvers at (804) 748-0660.

And for additional information on suicide prevention, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or text ‘HELLO’ to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

LGerman@timesdispatch.com, (804) 649-6340, Twitter: @Lyndon__G

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