Infant found dead in vehicle in Lindale on hot afternoon

Associated Press

An infant was found dead in a hot, parked vehicle outside Lindale City Hall on Tuesday after being left inside by one of the town's reserve police officers, authorities said.

The officer parked his truck Tuesday morning and drove a police car to a law-enforcement class in another town. About 3:20 p.m., the man contacted Lindale police in a panic and said he did not recall taking his infant to day care that day, Justice of the Peace James R. Cowart told The Associated Press.

Officials said Kevin Petty, a reserve sergeant with the department for seven years, had been attending a class in Canton, about 30 miles away.

The reserve officer asked to be met at his truck, where his 5-month-old daughter was discovered dead inside the vehicle, Cowart said. Temperatures in the East Texas community climbed to 102 degrees during the afternoon, the Tyler Morning Telegraph reported.

An autopsy was being conducted on the baby.

A Lindale police spokesman referred questions about the case to the Smith County Sheriff's Department. A message left for an investigator by the AP was not immediately returned Tuesday night.

Petty was described as distraught. Smith County Sheriff J. B. Smith told the Tyler newspaper that the case would be forwarded to the district attorney.

"I think there will be more scrutiny from everyone in this case because he is an officer," he said.

Lindale officials said they were deeply affected by the death.

"The city is very deeply grieved by what we believe is just a horrible tragedy," Lindale City Administrator Jim Cox said.

Lindale, which has about 3,000 residents, is 82 miles southeast of Dallas.