Investigators recreate heat that killed Georgia toddler left in car

Justin Ross Harris Hearnig - July 3

ATLANTA (CNN) – After a long day at work, a lot of families have to get into a hot car to get home.

It feels stifling once you get inside the vehicle but it can be deadly for children left behind in the heat.

For 22-month-old Cooper Harris, it was fatal.

Investigators in Georgia wanted to know how high the temperature climbed while he was in the back seat.

This week, they recreated the heat of Justin Harris’ silver Hyundai Tucson.

They drove it to the spot where it sat in the heat for seven hours on June 18, the day Cooper died.

They parked it in the same space that Harris did and measured the temperature at different intervals throughout the day.

At 9:30 a.m., police say Harris pulled into the parking lot, leaving Cooper in the car.

Around 12:42 p.m.,  authorities say the 33-year-old father placed light bulbs he had purchased inside the vehicle.

Investigators say they measured the temperature at 4:16 p.m., which is when they say Harris pulled out of the parking lot.

While the data has not been released, CNN weather experts believe temperatures could have climbed to nearly 140 degrees inside the car.

“Even outside temperatures in the 60s can cause a car temperature to rise well above 110  degrees Fahrenheit,” said the National Highway Traffic and Safety Authority.

On the day Cooper died, the high temperature reached 92 degrees.

Initially, police thought Cooper’s death was an accident.

However, the Cobb County Medical Examiner’s Office found the child’s death “consistent with hyperthermia and the investigative information suggests the manner of death is homicide.”

Authorities say that while Cooper was in the car, Harris was allegedly chatting via an online contact service with women.

Before Cooper died, investigators say Harris performed Internet searches on deaths in hot cars.