A 3-year-old Cypress girl was killed Saturday when a car left in neutral by her parent rolled back and struck the child, according to the sheriff.

“It appears a parent arrived home, began unloading the car, inadvertently left the vehicle in neutral,” Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said on Twitter.

Sheriff’s deputies first responded to the scene in the 18300 block of East Laura Shore around 10:45 a.m. The girl was taken to the hospital by an ambulance.

About an hour later, Gonzalez sent out the “heartbreaking” update: the child had been pronounced dead.

“Our prayers go out to this family,” he said.

A Houston Chronicle series in 2013 found that such accidents are chillingly common, and efforts to bolster safety standards have faced opposition by the auto industry. Roughly 40 children under 5 years old are injured every week in backover accidents, and on average two of them die, according to government statistics.

They are often backed over by their own parents or relatives.

Staff writer Susan Carroll contributed to this report.