Romulus boy, 5, dies of heat exposure after climbing into car
Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Romulus A 5-year-old boy who apparently climbed into an unlocked car died of accidental heat exposure, according to the Wayne County Medical Examiner's Office.

Romulus police are investigating but released no details, including the name of the boy, who was pronounced dead at 7 p.m. Saturday at Oakwood Heritage Hospital, about an hour after he was discovered inside a car on New York Street in Romulus.

An autopsy Sunday showed the boy died of hyperthermia, or excessive heat. His death was ruled accidental.

"It's really sad," said Charlotte Aalbertsberg, whose father lives on New York Street near the home. "We're not sure if he lives there or is a grandchild of a woman who lives there. And no one is certain how this happened. We will have to wait until we have all the facts.

"But to think a little boy died like that is hard to take."

Police did not return telephone calls Sunday. While firefighters also responded to the address to provide aid, a department lieutenant said any information could only be released from its chief on Monday.

WDIV-Channel 4 reported that neighbors told them the family was napping inside an address on New York Street when the boy somehow wandered away without anyone's knowledge and climbed into the unlocked car.

Death from hyperthermia would be consistent with excessive heat. The Metro Detroit area, including Romulus, has been on a heat advisory for days.

Hyperthermia means the body's temperature is so elevated and it produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate. Health officials routinely caution adults not to leave children or pets inside an closed up vehicle during hot weather because of the danger of heat stroke or hyperthermia. On a warm day -- such as Saturday when temperatures were in the 80s -- the interior temperature of a vehicle can reach 150 degrees within 15 minutes.

More than 30 child deaths occur in cars annually in the U.S. due to heat-related causes.

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