An eight-year-old boy is in a critical condition after secretly climbing back into his mother's auto following the school drop-off, then getting trapped in the vehicle for several hours under the fierce Australian sun.
Melbourne is sweltering through a brutally hot spring day, with temperatures now hovering around 34 degrees.
The youngster is a pupil at St Margaret Mary's Catholic Primary School in Spotswood, in Melbourne's inner west, where children are being offered counselling.
His classmates are also struggling to cope with the tragedy, and both the boy's school and the public school where his mother works are offering their communities counselling.
Detectives at the scene on Monday afternoon after a child was found in a auto.
Police said: "She has driven to work and parked her vehicle without knowing he was in there".
According to Victoria Police, the mother had done the school run, dropping the kids at primary school in the western suburbs yesterday morning. "Police are treating the incident as an accident".
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Police say it's unclear how the boy came to be in the vehicle, however the incident is not believed to be suspicious.
Emergency services were called to the black Kia Carnival minivan parked on Maddox Road just before 3pm, and transported the boy to the Royal Children's Hospital.
Children being picked up from school and day care by their parents were shepherded away from the area by emergency responders.
Police, paramedics and fire brigade crews had all rushed to the scene, which is close to a primary school and childcare centre.
Police had initially referred the incident to the murder squad but are now treating the incident as an accident. 'It's sad whichever way it happened - especially when kids are involved'.
However, she did not realise that her eight-year-old son had snuck into the back of the van and hid. She said: "I feel sorry for the parents".
Last year, paramedics fielded a staggering 1562 calls to rescue or treat children left in cars. "It can be fatal if you aren't careful".