Atlanta has been experiencing record cold temperatures lately and a group vulnerable to that cold are the people living on the streets.
A community volunteer named Jason Winter made a post on Facebook about a two-year-old girl being found dead under the "Grady Bridge" after freezing to death. It was posted on January 13 and has been shared thousands of times.
It reads "So sad. Just found out that a 2-year-old little girl froze to death near the same “Grady Bridge” I made a post about a few weeks ago. The city of Atlanta should be ashamed. The only HOPE these folks have are US. I will do everything in my power to help our less fortunate friends on the streets. Please share!"
In the comments under the post, people have expressed sympathy and shared their opinions on why this happened and the failures in government and the private sector that lead to this happened. Some are wondering how this could happen in a city like Atlanta. Others question if what the post reads, actually happened.
Winter posted a video days later defending his post and sharing his source. He said his friend and his friend's wife found the child in a box. "He was with his wife and they were under the bridge and basically came upon a box with a little girl in it, I apologize I said she was two, she was three but it doesn't make a difference."
"Sar saw her in the box, she was frozen, she was dead."
He goes on to say Sar called the police and left after the ambulance arrived.
11Alive set out to VERIFY the post and find out if a child froze to death under that bridge.
We reached out to both Winter and his friend Sarim Ibn Salahadhin Ali-El. Salahadhin Ali-El said he found her on December 23 when he was serving soup under a bridge under I-75 at Bell and Pratt streets. He is adamant that he found a little girl under a sheet that day who was no loner alive.
He said he's a holistic health practitioner and has been volunteering with the homeless for years. He said seeing the children under the bridges are the hardest sights to deal with.
The Atlanta Police Department said they have no records of a child freezing to death under a bridge. The Fulton County Medical Examiner's office said they don't have a record of any child dying from hypothermia or exposure, either.
However, medical examiner investigations can take time. Determining the cause and manner of death could take weeks and even months of testing and waiting for results. The medical examiner's office said paramedics pronounced the child dead on the scene, their office and police would have arrived to begin an investigation. That did not happen.
It is worth noting that there was a series of days at the end of 2017 and the beginning of this year when temperatures dropped below freezing.
After our investigation, we can say that with the information available today, the claim that a child froze to death under a bridge in Atlanta is FALSE.
However, people are dying in the streets. The Fulton County ME said they are investigating at least two adults who have died, possibly from hyperthermia or exposure.
Atlanta Police Department
Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office
Whether the death happened or not, people living in the cold is a very real issue. The City of Atlanta has opened warming centers. As have the Salvation Army and other charities.
The City of Atlanta opened an additional warming center at the Central Park Recreation Center. located at 400 Merrits Avenue North East, Atlanta, GA 30308. Men, women and children are welcome.
The Salvation Army’s Red Shield Services facility at 469 Marietta Street, operates in conjunction with the City of Atlanta. It provides a warm bed to those who have nowhere else to go on nights when the temperature falls below 40 degrees. The warming center at Red Shield is open from 9 PM – 5 AM. On extremely cold mornings, the center may stay open longer. The Salvation Army recommends those needing shelter in the cold call ahead. Red Shield Services can be reached at 404-486-2700 or 404-486-2701.
In Atlanta, there are about 700 unsheltered homeless people living in the city. That's down from 2,100 in 2011, according to the most recent survey done by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.