Fort Worth

Fort Worth mother, child died of hypothermia, medical examiner rules

Lindsay Groce Gardner with her daughter, Hailey Rain Gardner.
Lindsay Groce Gardner with her daughter, Hailey Rain Gardner. Courtesy

A woman found dead along with her young daughter in a southwest Fort Worth field in January, 200 yards from their wrecked car, died of hypothermia, the Tarrant County medical examiner’s office has ruled.

The deaths of Lindsay Groce Gardner, 27, and Hailey Gardner, 13 months, were deemed accidental.

A passer-by had alerted police at about 8:20 a.m. Jan. 13 that a Toyota was wrecked against a tree in a field southwest of the intersection of Dirks and Bryant Irvin roads.

Officers responded but could not find the car’s occupants.

About 11 a.m., a man repairing a broken fence discovered the bodies.

The mother’s body was atop her daughter’s, and both were undressed. Their clothing was found nearby.

The medical examiner’s ruling in Gardner’s death states the woman died of hypothermia with paradoxical undressing.

Paradoxical undressing can occur in cases of severe hypothermia when the victim, confused and disoriented, begins to feel as if she is burning up and therefore removes her clothing.

Dr. Nizam Peerwani, the county medical examiner, said toxicology screenings came back negative for both mother and child.

He called the deaths a “very sad and unusual case” and one that he has only seen a couple times.

“But then we do not have cold brutal winters as in the Northeast and Midwest where such deaths are seen with greater frequency,” Peerwani said. “My heart cries out for both the beautiful innocent child and the mother.”

With the rulings, Fort Worth homicide Sgt. Joe Loughman said the homicide unit’s portion of the investigation is now closed.

Deanna Boyd, 817-390-7655

Twitter: @deannaboyd