The manner of death (that is, the circumstances surrounding the hyperthermia) remains under investigation by the BCSO Criminal Investigations Division.
Unofficial reports earlier had indicated the deaths likely were linked to exposure to extreme heat. Bradley County is continuing under a heat wave that began last week with four consecutive days of triple-digit highs.
“The children died of ‘hyperthermia’ according to the report,” BCSO media relations coordinator Bob Gault confirmed late this morning.
Hyperthermia is also known as heat stroke or heat prostration, according to medterms.com. Dr. Jeff Miller, Bradley County medical examiner, said today hyperthermia occurs when the body becomes overheated and the core temperature is elevated above normal body temperature of 98.6.
“It is a ‘cascading event’ when the body becomes overheated,” Miller said. “The hypothalamus gland regulates body temperatures. The brain begins to shut the body down because it can’t regulate the internal body temperature.”
Sheriff Jim Ruth said today investigators are searching all avenues surrounding the deaths of River Bates, 3, and Leland Bates, 5.
River Bates was pronounced dead last Thursday after being taken to SkyRidge Medical Center and Leland Bates, who had been transported to Erlanger Medical Center, died the next day.
According to initial reports from BCSO, their mother Tasha Moses reportedly traveled to her father’s home on Armstrong Road just before 3 p.m. Thursday to alert 911 that her children were unresponsive and reportedly had been involved in a possible drowning.
The incident occurred at the Moses home located on Keith Valley Road.
Eric Blach, lead investigator for the Bradley County Medical Examiner’s Office, said initial indications were the children died as a result of high temperatures. Additional information will be forthcoming as the investigation proceeds.
Blach said, “Toxicology testing will not be recieved for some time. Typically, those who performed the autopsies will get the initial reports back to us a little quicker if a case is different, such as this one.”
Blach had said earlier this morning before the initial autopsy report was issued that, “Initial indications were the deaths were heat-related. The children succumbed from high heat. Both had high body core temperatures.”
Blach declined to reveal the core temperatures of the two children because the investigation is still under way.
Ruth confirmed this morning the investigation is continuing.
“Our investigators are searching for information about what may have caused the deaths, whether it be from being outside or inside a vehicle,” Ruth noted.