- Family and Parenting
A 100% PREVENTABLE cause of death of babies & small children
NEVER let this happen
The following is a true story. Some names have been changed to protect the INNOCENT.
His name was Johnathan. Just 22 months old and as sweet and lovable as you would expect a happy, healthy toddler to be.
He adored his Daddy, who, from the moment of Johnathan's birth had taken over as primary parent, caregiver and protector. It was something Daddy readily accepted. This baby would be his to raise, nurture and love. Daddy's name is Robert.
Johnathan's Mom, Natasha, worked full-time and......well, that's about all she did other than drink a lot. The truth is that every adult in her family, mother, father & brothers join Natasha in being alcoholics.
Natasha was void of any maternal instincts and it appeared this did not concern her She would not have been described as abusive rather merely complacent. Natasha was a victim of her own shabby upbringing and lack of parental love or guidance. Raised in a family of alcoholics, she had little positive care and attention throughout her upbringing. The eldest child, she was made to be responsible for her younger siblings.
Robert had two wonderful sons from a prior relationship as well . He and his High School sweetheart are loving parents to a 9 year old and a 5 year old.
These precious boys live with their Mom but spend an equal amount of time with their Dad.
Baby brother Johnathan loved his big brothers and they loved him right back.
It had always been a source of regret for Robert that the relationship with his High School sweetheart had to end. Not only because he loved her very much, but he sincerely wanted to be an active, involved Dad and a constant presence in their lives.
It didn't work out that way and while Robert blamed himself, he placed his efforts to focus on maintaining a close bond with his sons.
A new chance, to be a full-time Daddy
So, this is central to the reasons that Robert was elated to have the opportunity to be Johnathan's primary caregiver.
Robert and Johnathan were inseparable. Daddy bathed and dressed him, fed him, rocked him and read him Dr. Seuss.This beautiful baby boy had all his needs met and more from a Dad who adored him.
It was a precious sight to see Dad playing ball with his toddler, swinging in the park and comforting him in the Dr.'s office. Johnathan was a constant addition in Daddy's arms where ever he went. Nature took it's course and this Dad and son grew very close.
They were such a constant duo, even the neighbors would comment, "What a special bond between that man and his baby boy."
During weekly visits when he had all three of his sons together, he kept them happy and busy continually. It was important to Robert that his sons develop a strong brotherly-bond.
The night of horror
There was a birthday party planned for Natasha, so she and Robert took Johnathan to his maternal Grandparent's house to sleep the night.
Robert wasn't completely comfortable to let Johnathan spend the night in his grandparent's small, unkempt and cluttered home. However Johnathan was usually happy being there because his preteen Uncles played with him and gave him lots of attention. It seemed to Robert to be OK for just this night.
The younger boys bedrooms were so filthy and cluttered, their beds were literally buried under piles of stuff. With Johnathan there, the kids camped out in the living room, two on the floor and Johnathan on the couch.
The killer arrives
At some point in the wee hours of the night, Natasha's 24 year old, alcoholic and jobless brother, "Alan", stumbled into the house, too intoxicated to drive the extra miles to his own place.
In the dark..... and in his self-inflicted numbing stupor, his 6 foot, 300 pound frame simply dropped onto the couch, shoving our sleeping Angel into the couch, face first.
Allan was unconscious and completely unaware of his lethal actions.
In the morning, the grandmother didn't see Johnathan and began to look around.
The noise woke the kids, but no Johnathan.
No Johnathan until Allan got up. Johnathan was found, having been smothered to death.
It was too late.... they frantically drove to the Hospital......but it was much too late.
The ever-haunting phone call
Robert and Natasha were called to go to the hospital, as Johnathan was there.
I am Robert's mother......and the person he called immediately, upon discovering the shattering news that his baby was gone.
If I live to be one hundred, I will forever hear my son's spine-chilling screams as he sobbed and tried to tell me his baby was dead.
I know that my heart stopped for a period of time. and I trembled, uncontrollably. What in the name of God, did my son just tell me?......I felt my stomach turn, my head about to explode.
What I don't recall, is the 15 minute drive to the hospital. I had tunnel vision as I hyperventilated. By the time I got out of my car, every sound was like a booming echo inside my head.
Quickly scanning the area, I saw my son, sitting on the ground on the side of the parking lot. He was holding his head in his hands, as he rocked back and forth and screamed from the depths of his soul.
I ran to him and fell to my knees to embrace him. We rocked and we cried together, and I felt the pain of the gravel cutting into the skin of my knees.
But the pain in my heart for my son, consumed me.
This could not be real. I had to be imagining this whole thing. How could this be? Dear God, tell me what to do, please.
Eventually, Robert took my hand in his and still sobbing, lead me into the emergency room, behind the curtain, ever so slowly.
My eyes saw him and instantly, my mind shut down. The muffled sounds, the smells of antiseptic, my eyes blurred with tears.... our beautiful child laying lifeless on a gurney, his little chubby arms at his side.......a perfect sleeping, precious baby.
People began to surround us, bringing water and chairs for us to sit. We didn't sit, we couldn't swallow. Nurses, counselors, policemen, EMT's ....I saw them all, but I couldn't hear them.
No matter how hard I try, I cannot remember what I did next, where I went or how I got back home.
What stays with me is the funeral home, the tiny casket with the beautiful sleeping baby boy, the hugging and holding and all the tears.
Robert's three older brothers formed a protective wall around him every moment and never left his side. Our Angel Johnathan was laid to rest two days later. We were left to grieve and bear a loss that should never ever have to be.
No one from that house where Johnathan died, spoke a word of how it happened.
The drunken murderer was also a coward. He could not tell of his grossly irresponsible act that took my son's baby.
Allan snuffed out the life of his sister's baby, but never took responsibility. He never admitted a thing.
For weeks of unbearable heartache, Johnathan's death remained a mystery.
The Sherriffs began their investigation. They inspected the home and interviewed every person present in the house that fateful night.
They kept in touch with Robert and I as we all waited for the autopsy results. One investigator who had his theories & suspicions, questioned Allan more than once as well as the younger boys, whom he could clearly see were repeating well-scripted & identical statements.
The moment came when Allan could no longer maintain his facade. The truth came out.
In Robert's mind, his son's death was surely blatant recklessness on Allan's part. He should be held responsible for this senseless loss and charged with the egregious crime it was. Negligent homicide?
Robert and I consulted with a criminal Attorney and soon found ourselves in the office of the County District Attorney.
The meeting was somber and the D.A. of the Homicide Department himself, investigators and a police officer were in attendance.
These men were so kind and compassionate. I knew they could feel the depth of Robert's pain and treated him with such concern.
It was apparent they had done their homework and were quite familiar with the sequence of events and the parties involved in this senseless death of a healthy 22 month old child. I noticed that the D.A. had carried in and placed on the table, a pile of files, several inches thick.
About 20 minutes into our meeting, the group went silent and as my son stared at them, waiting for the discussion to resume, the D.A.'s voice softened and his face displayed genuine empathy.
He placed his hand atop the pile of files and said to us, "THIS represents over 200 cases of 'rollover deaths' in this county alone, this year."
"Rollover" is what the death of a child who has been smothered/suffocated to death is referred to, in police investigations.
The D.A. continued as Robert and I sat in stunned disbelief. "This is every county's dirty little secret."
"We know this is a difficult fact to believe, but the proof is here, in these files. Dozens and dozens of rollover deaths, which, I am obligated to tell you, are, for purposes of legal action, considered ACCIDENTAL."
My son's head went down and I could hear him breathing short, quick breaths.......I remained stunned, in my chair. The D.A. thumbed through the pages in front of him.....and he read aloud, one after another.....heartbreaking cases after case of babies being suffocated by the body of an adult, sleeping and unaware. The list went on and on.
Robert stood up and excused himself to walk the hall. I asked these men what all of this meant, although In my heart, I knew.
"They're accidents. None of these people had intent to harm. They're tragic and horrific, but even considering some are due to intoxication or drug-induced stupors......they are accidents.
We do not place charges in these cases. Sadly, this is all too common an event.
"We couldn't possibly place hundreds of charges, that ultimately go nowhere in court. We have thousands of cases of intentional crime."
So, there you have it. The ugly, inconceivable truth. Based on the information presented to my son and I, the dirty secret in every county across our nation.
Do the research and when you're done, you will know what to do next.
Share this message. Tell everyone you know. Be an advocate to save thousands of infants and small children from a senseless, needless death. Spare the families a lifetime of sorrow. This is 100% preventable
The Lifetime Aftermath
Robert will never be the same man again. He remains a loving, doting father to his boys, as he carries the hole in his heart for the son he lost.
Myself?.....although I've lost several people very close to me, and believed nothing in this world could be as devastating as the death of someone I loved so very much.....the truth is...that....
Sadly, I now know ....My own losses and heartache pale in comparison to the gut-wrenching pain of experiencing your own child's unrelenting grief.