SWEETWATER, Tenn. (WVLT) - Monroe County deputies confirmed a three-year-old boy became locked in a car for at least 35 minutes and later died on Monday.
According to detectives, early information indicated the child got inside the car on his own but couldn't get out. Detective Doug Mills said some cars won't automatically unlock from the inside. He said that's something most parents likely aren't aware of but should keep in mind.
A preliminary report from detectives read, "Upon checking the door lock mechanism, it was discovered the vehicle doors were not able to be opened from the inside with the handles and had to be unlocked with the buttons."
Detectives told WVLT News the family was 'distraught' following the discovery. An autopsy was performed Tuesday morning but investigators said results won't be available for about a month. Detectives said it was still unclear whether charges would be filed.
Deputies said the boy's grandmother, Anita Gibson, told them she was mowing the neighbor's lawn while a 15-year-old child kept an eye on the other children in her care. Gibson said she returned to the home on Gose Lane and noticed the back gate was open. That's when she reportedly asked the teenager where the children were.
A search ensued, and deputies said the boy was found in a locked car that had been parked on the property since early Monday morning. Investigators said Gibson took the child inside and reportedly attempted to revive him, but was unsuccessful.
The Monroe County sheriff's deputy arrived as the scene at 1:15 p.m., and the boy was taken by ambulance to the Sweetwater Hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to the sheriff's office.
On Monday, detectives interviewed the 15-year-old who was reportedly watching the child, but were not able to provide details about that interview.
The investigation is ongoing.