The Great Smoky Mountain Journal

Staff Reports

Posted: Monday, January 01, 2018 12:26 PM

Gatlinburg Police Yet To File Charges In Case Where Two-Year Old Child Died in Car After Being Left There Overnight

It's been five days since police say a two-year-old was found dead after being left in a car overnight in Gatlinburg yet no charges have been filed in the case.

A Laurel Avenue driveway was where officials said the parents of a two-year-old old called 9-1-1 after waking up and finding their boy dead. Police said the boy was apparently left in a car overnight.

Gatlinburg Police Chief Randall Brackins said this is the first death of its kind in Gatlinburg, speaking to local news outlets earlier this week.

"Your heart just sinks," said Brackins. "It just drops. You're kind of like, 'A child left in car, how can that happen?'"

The police are waiting on forensics to determine the cause of the child's death. Once those results come back, District Attorney General Jimmy Dunn will decide if any charges will be filed against the parents.

Brackins said he recommends a toxicology report in this case.

"Because it's such a rare event, everyone wants to be careful and make sure there are no mistakes, and that's why it's taking longer than usual," he said.

Brackins also said the victim's parents, who are Gatlinburg residents, were living in the house the night the incident happened. The house belongs to Westmoreland, Tennessee, Mayor Jerry Kirkman.

When asked about the possibility no one will be charged due to who owns the home, the police chief assured news outlets that, no matter the political connection, justice will be served for the two year old child.

"That catches me by surprise," Brackins said. "That will not occur in this case. If it's determined charges need to be filed, they will be filed."

Chief Brackins said no previous 9-1-1 calls were made to this house before the latest incident. He also said General Dunn could send this case to the grand jury, which doesn't meet again for month.