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Sheriff says baby dies after being left in car by mistake

HAMMOND, La. — An 8-month-old boy has died after being left in a car for 8 1/2 hours by mistake, Louisiana investigators said.

The baby was found in the car about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, when his guardian drove to a daycare centre to pick him up, Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's spokeswoman Dawn Panepinto said.

The baby wasn't there: he was still in his car seat in the back seat of the car, she wrote in a news release Thursday.

"The guardian has been very co-operative and working with detectives. She's obviously distraught," Sheriff Daniel Edwards said in the statement.

The woman thought she had dropped the baby off about 8 a.m., but he apparently spent the day in the car outside the woman's workplace in Hammond, about 20 miles (65 kilometres ) northeast of New Orleans.

Temperatures there hit 90 degrees (32 degrees Celsius) Wednesday. At that temperature outdoors, a car's interior can reach 136 degrees (58 degrees Celsius) in an hour, University of Georgia researchers have found .

Panepinto said the case would be turned over to prosecutors once the investigation is completed.

She wrote that people should arrange for childcare providers to call if a child doesn't show up; to make a habit of checking front and back seats before locking a car door; and to create reminders for a child's presence, such as leaving their purse or briefcase in the rear seat or leaving a stuffed animal in view.

"This is the first case for the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office where a child had died as the result of being left inside of a vehicle and we want it to be the last," she wrote.

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