DCS: Child found dead in vehicle was 6-month-old boy

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The Tennessee Department of Child Services confirmed the child found dead in a vehicle in a Knoxville shopping center was a 6-month-old boy.

Child found dead in a vehicle on Clinton Highway / Source: WVLT News

DCS confirmed the child's family had no prior history with the department. The investigation is still open.

On August 9, Knoxville investigators said said they received a call about a deceased child in the 5000 block of Clinton Highway in the Food City shopping center just after 3 p.m.

Upon arrival, investigators found the child dead.

A witness at the scene told WVLT News reporter Justin McDuffie that she was on the phone in the parking lot of Food City when she noticed a woman pacing back and forth and crying outside a vehicle.

Before investigators released the deceased child's age, a witness had said she saw a small child, no older than six, laying in the backseat of the vehicle. Investigators did not say whether there were two children in the vehicle or not.

The witness said she saw the woman with another child who appeared to be older than eight walking out of the store together.

Shortly after that, an undercover police officer approached the woman and within two to three minutes multiple emergency responders descended on the scene, the witness said.

KPD did not say that the child died due to heat-related incidents but did say that neither animals nor children would do well in the heat if left in a vehicle. According to the National Safety Council, a record number of children died in hot cars in 2018.

NoHeatStroke.org reported that, of the children who died in hot cars in the last 20 years, 53 percent of children were forgotten inside a car, 26 percent gained access to the vehicle and 18 percent were left knowingly.

San Jose State University Professor Jan Null said hot car deaths peak on Thursday and Friday and are by far the days when such deaths happen. August is the second-worst month for hot car deaths, following July.

KPD said they are looking to get the full details of the incident.

"We have to get more details...before we feel comfortable releasing anything else," spokesperson Scott Erland said.

The investigation is ongoing and Erland said no further details would be released on Friday.

Companies across the nation introduced new technology to prevent parents from leaving children in the car. WVLT has all the information on the gadgets.

Chris Wilkinson is working with national lawmakers to create legislation known as Coopers Law. The law would attempt to prevent tragedies related to kids left in hot cars. The law would penalize anyone who leaves a child, pet, elderly or disabled person in car. The legislation would also require car manufacturers to put alarms in cars reminding parents to check the back seat.

According to KPD, once the investigation into the incident is complete they will release their findings and turn the case over to the District Attorney's Office.

The Department of Children's Services and the Knox County Regional Forensics Office are assisting with the investigation.

Due to the age of the child and the involvement of DCS, no further information will be released until the investigation is complete.

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