Jerry Kirkman with toddler

Gatlinburg baby hot car death update: Parents were home when toddler was left overnight in car, confirmed to be mayor’s grandson

The parents of a toddler boy who died in a hot car on Saturday in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, admitted that they were home the night they left him in the vehicle.

Knoxville News Sentinel reports that the parents, whose names aren’t being released while the case in under investigation, were distraught when they found their little boy unconscious in their car. The details surrounding who left the child in the car and are still unclear, but so far, no one has been arrested. Gatlinburg Police Chief Randall Brackins said the couple “couldn’t believe” their child died.

“They were distraught, very upset. They were very unbelieving of what was occurring. They just couldn’t believe it was happening.”

According to USA Today, the child died while trapped inside a car at at 416 Laurel Ave., in Gatlinburg. Property records indicate the home belongs to Westmoreland mayor, Jerry Kirkland. The homes in the neighborhood are mostly vacation rentals, with people coming and going, according to Dan Berry, owner of the closeby Laurel Springs Lodge Bed and Breakfast.

“So many people come and go, it’s not like we pick up a lot of neighbors. It’s more like one long-term rental followed by another.”

ORIGINAL Story: Nobody missed the baby ALL NIGHT? Mayor’s tot grandson dead after left in car overnight in Gatlinburg

According to Brackins, the parents lived in the Laurel Ave. home a few months before the incident occurred. He said he doesn’t believe drugs or alcohol played a factor, but detectives are still investigating, trying to determine the actions that led up to the baby being left in the car overnight.

“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.”

On Friday, a pastor at the Lakeside Church in Westmoreland took to Facebook and confirmed that Mayor Kirkland’s grandson passed away. The post was deleted afterwards, likely due to the ongoing investigation. The secretary at the church said that the child belonged to Kirkland’s daughter and son-in-law. She said Kirkland’s daughter attended the church as a child and comes from a “good” family.

“They attended church here for a while when she was little. Since she’s been grown and married I haven’t seen her for years, but they’re a really good family. (The mayor) and his wife both are very friendly and go to church. They’re a really good family.”

Check back with Crime Online as additional details in the case become available.

[Feature Image: Facebook]