A Pennsylvania woman accused of getting high and drunk and falling asleep on her baby, causing the infant to suffocate and die, was charged on Thursday with involuntary manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child.
Penn Live reports that on December 30, 2016 police were dispatched to home off of Lawrence Street in Middletown, Pennsylvania, after someone called in emergency assistance for an unresponsive 2-month old baby. When authorities arrived, the baby’s mother, Arissa Ward, 23, said that she went to sleep on her couch with the infant and thought she may have rolled over him. The baby, her son, was taken to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. His cause of death was listed as traumatic asphyxia and smothering.
Ward admitted that she’d been drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana prior to falling asleep on the couch. The infant’s autopsy report revealed that he had small traces of marijuana in his system. She was arrested and released on a $50,000 unsecured bail. Her boyfriend and the baby’s father, Arthur Livering, is accused of smoking marijuana with Ward on the night the infant died. He’s charged with drug possession and endangering the welfare of a child.
Dauphin County district attorney Ed Marsico said that the increase in infant bed-sharing deaths resulted in a recent formation of a task force who will study how to prevent it from happening so often. Marsico urged parents to not sleep with their infants.
“The advice from hospitals and pediatricians is pretty clear – don’t sleep with your child…..Our message today is don’t sleep with your kid, especially if you’re smoking dope or drinking all night, because you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Marsico also said that the involuntary manslaughter charge was fitting of the crime, since the baby’s death was “caused by a reckless act” and wasn’t intentional.
Ward’s other child, a toddler girl, is now in the custody of Children and Youth Services.
[Feature Photo: Dauphin County Jail/Facebook]