A 2-year-old child found dead in a vehicle last week has been identified on social media as the grandchild of Westmoreland, Tennessee Mayor Jerry Kirkman. The tragic incident took place when the child was allegedly left in a hot car overnight on Thursday when the temperature reached 89 degrees. The toddler was reportedly found in the vehicle, which was initially reported as belonging to Mayor Jerry Kirkman, until nearly 2 p.m. on Friday, July 14.
As MSN News reports, last Friday's temperature reached a stifling 88 degrees.
Officers reportedly responded to a report of a child being left in hot car at the mayor's Gatlinburg property at 1:57 p.m. last Friday. First responders reportedly found the 2-year-old child already deceased after arriving at the scene.
At this time, the Gatlinburg Police Department and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations are both declining to release either the incident report or specific details in the disturbing case, citing an open and ongoing investigation into the apparently hot car-related death. Investigators are not officially confirming the age, gender or identity of the toddler, nor are they publicly confirming the length of time the 2-year-old spent unattended in the hot car, or even if anyone was arrested or charged in the case.However, despite the fact that authorities have remained tight-lipped about the hot car-related death of Mayor Jerry Kirkman's 2-year-old grandchild, friends and neighbors of the mayor have turned to social media to express their condolences in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Included among the mourners is the pastor of Lakeland Church, who took to the church's Facebook page to share condolences, but not details. The post has since been deleted.
"I just received word that the 2-year-old grandson of Mayor Jerry and Jackie Kirkman passed away today. There are no details to pass along."Neither Gatlinburg Police Chief Randall Brackins nor Mayor Jerry Kirkman has responded to media requests for comment about the hot car death of the 2-year-old. When members of the media arrived at the mayor's home on Tuesday, the lawn was strewn with children's summer toys and nobody answered the door.
Others in the neighborhood, however, have spoken out about the shocking hot car death of the mayor's 2-year-old grandson after the toddler was reportedly left alone in a hot car for hours and hours. Matthew McGhee and Chris Box, employees of Home Services of the Smokies, were working just a few houses away from the mayor's home last Friday, and they witnessed the heavy police presence.The pair claim to have heard about the tragic hot car death on the news last week, but didn't realize until they were contacted by the media early this week that it had happened just a few houses away from their job. They were unaware that the home belonged to Mayor Jerry Kirkman. Box added that as the father of a young child himself, he's having a hard time understanding how a 2-year-old can be forgotten in a hot car overnight in the first place.
"It's really disheartening. 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."At this time, it is unclear if Mayor Jerry Kirkman and his wife were tending to the two-year-old child at the time of the toddler's hot car death last week, or whether charges will be filed in the horrific case.
***Update: The Knoxville News-Sentinel reports that the home where the 2-year-old child died in a hot car last week was occupied by the child's parents, despite reportedly being owned by Mayor Jerry Kirkman. According to Police Chief Randall Brackins, the little boy was also in the care of both of his parents, a working mother and stay-at-home father, at the time his body was discovered. It is unknown whether or not charges will be filed against either parent, and the investigation into the toddler's death is ongoing.
"It could be anything at this point. It could be accidental or it could be a homicide. That's what investigators are trying to determine."Investigators believe that the 2-year-old grandson of Mayor Kirkman had been left unattended in the hot car for at least 12 hours before his lifeless body was discovered, a fact that has left locals distraught and infuriated.
"Most of us are parents or grandparents, so we get worked up over this. You cannot lose a child for 16 hours and not have some sort of extenuating circumstances. It's not just 'Oops.' The child would have to have eaten breakfast and lunch. How did a light suddenly come on at 2 p.m.?"While police have not released the identities of the child's parents, neighbors claim that they are the daughter and son-in-law of the mayor, and Chief Brackins claims that both were 'distraught' after the discovery of the 2-year-old. Investigators do not believe that drugs or alcohol were a factor in the child's death.***
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