2-Year-Old Found Dead In Car Outside Home Owned by Tenn. Mayor

July 18, 2017: Gatlinburg Police are still investigating the death of a 2-year-old officials suspect was left in a hot car overnight.

SEVIER COUNTY - GATLINBURG, Tenn.  — The home where police found a 2-year-old child dead after being left in a vehicle overnight Thursday belongs to Jerry Kirkman, mayor of Westmoreland, Tenn.

A neighbor who saw police at the scene on Friday evening identified the house as 416 Laurel Ave. According to the Sevier County Property Assessor's Office, that house is owned by Kirkman, who lists a Westmoreland mailing address.

Police found the child dead after responding 1:57 p.m. Friday to a report of a child left in a vehicle overnight on Laurel Avenue, according to a police news release.

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The Gatlinburg Police Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation both declined on Tuesday to release the incident report to the USA TODAY Network, citing the ongoing investigation.

Authorities haven't released information in the case such as the identity or gender of the child, the address where the child was found, how long the child was in the vehicle, and whether anyone was taken into custody.

Gatlinburg Police Chief Randall Brackins didn't return calls on Tuesday.

Kirkman, the mayor of the Sumner County town with a population of about 2,200, didn't respond to multiple requests for comment.

According to the National Weather Service in Morristown, the temperature in Gatlinburg reached an estimated high of 89 degrees on Thursday and 88 on Friday.

No one answered the door at 416 Laurel Ave. on Tuesday afternoon. The house was well-kept and blinds blocked all the windows. Outside, children’s toys, including a toy lawnmower and an inflatable turtle, lay in the yard.

Matthew McGhee and Chris Box, who were working at a nearby house on Red Bud Lane, said they saw first responders and police on Laurel Avenue on Friday afternoon.

Box said he heard about the child’s death on the news but it didn’t dawn on him until he was approached by a reporter Tuesday that it had happened just a few houses away from where he has been working the past few days.

“It’s really disheartening,” Box said. “I have a 7-month-old son and I don’t know how you forget a child in the car. I just can’t fathom it.”

The two, who work for Home Services of the Smokies, said they didn’t know who lived in the house or what exactly happened.

“It’s sad,” said Box. “You think about what maybe you could have done if you had driven by that way.”

© 2017 WBIR.COM


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