Child found dead in vehicle outside Knoxville shopping center, says KPD

Child found dead in a vehicle on Clinton Highway / Source: WVLT News
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Knoxville investigators responded to reports of a child locked in a vehicle on Clinton Highway.

Just after 3 p.m., officials said they received a call about a deceased child in the 5000 block of Clinton Highway in the Food City shopping center.

Upon arrival, investigators found the child dead. They do not know the exact age of the child and could not confirm whether it was a boy or girl.

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.

The witness said when she approached the vehicle, she saw a small child, no older than six, laying in the backseat.

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. 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.

According to, this is the 31st child vehicular heatstroke death of 2019. A similar death occurred on Thursday in Columbus, Nebraska.

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