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Dominic Martin stood silently, choking back tears, as his spouse bade farewell to their only child, Audrey.

"Adieu, my little flower," Sylvie Dubé said in her final words to the 23-month-old, whose coffin was surrounded by stuffed animals.

Audrey Dubé-Martin died last Thursday of hyperthermia after her father forgot the sleeping toddler in a sweltering car and went off to work. Mr. Martin returned eight hours later to find the girl unconscious; she died later in hospital.

The 26-year-old actuary is charged with manslaughter. If convicted, he could face life in prison.

Yesterday, Mr. Martin served as a pallbearer, carrying the tiny white-draped coffin into Coeur-Immaculée-de-Marie Roman Catholic Church with the aid of the girl's grandfather and great-grandfather.

While the family has not spoken about the ordeal, through their actions they showed their support for Mr. Martin. As he left the church, he was hugged by numerous well-wishers. His actions have also elicited broad public sympathy.

Mr. Martin had a well-established routine of taking his daughter to daycare before dropping his spouse off at work. But on Thursday, because he was running late, he dropped his wife off first. Then, out of habit, he headed straight to a parking lot and hopped on the subway to work.

Police said that he simply forgot about Audrey, sleeping in the back seat. The temperature in the car is believed to have exceeded 60 C. Police said passersby didn't notice the girl because the car windows are tinted.

During the funeral, which was attended by more than 200 people, Mr. Martin stood silently, looking crushed.

The presiding priest, Rev. Gilles Martel, made only a cryptic reference to the way Audrey died. "We are confronted today by the great mystery of death," he said. "We all ask ourselves: Why did this happen? . . . We don't have an answer today."

After the ceremony, Father Martel said Mr. Martin was coping with the support of family and faith, but was obviously suffering greatly.

"It must be an enormous burden," he said.

Mr. Martin, who is free on bail, will return to court on Oct. 2 for his preliminary inquiry.

Audrey is not the first child to be left in a hot vehicle.

Two-year-old Ranika Clifton died in September, 2002, after being left in a hot van outside a daycare in Wake Forest, N.C..

In September, 2001, 11-month-old Jacob Loesch died after his mother strapped him into his car seat and then went about her day teaching special education in Sauk Rapids, Mississippi.

A month earlier, emergency medical crews rescued two children -- one in North Carolina and one in Tennesse -- after bystanders called police.

Both cases occurred days after a three-year-old California girl died when her parents left her strapped in the car seat upon returning from an outing.

In 2001, a study commissioned by General Motors reported that at least 120 children had died of hyperthermia -- the medical term for severe heatstroke or heat exhaustion -- in hot, parked cars since 1996. In 1999, 36 children died in overheated cars.

In the same study, Oded Bar-Or of the Children's Exercise and Nutrition Centre at McMaster University found that leaving the windows open a crack to circulate air did little to prevent the heat in the car from rising to a level that was dangerous to children.