WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) – A Polk County woman faces manslaughter charges after her newborn infant son was found dead in her bed.
Polk County Sheriff’s Office investigators say this is the woman’s second baby to die from co-sleeping.
PCSO Homicide Detectives on Tuesday arrested 25-year-old Erin Piche-Pitts of Winter Haven. They say her negligence caused the death of her newborn son.
“This lady doesn’t get it,” said Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd. “Because of her recklessness and her disregard for the law, her second baby is dead,” he said. “Neither one of them had to die.”
Investigators say Piche-Pitts gave birth to a baby boy on September 18, 2016. Prior to being released from the Winter Haven Women’s Hospital, she was given information about properly caring for her infant, including the dangers of co-sleeping.
On September 21, Piche-Pitts took the baby for a routine newborn exam, and the baby’s primary care physician, who was aware of her first baby’s death, had a conversation with Piche-Pitts ensuring she did not sleep in the same bed with the newborn. Detectives say Piche-Pitts assured the physician that she would not.
During the early morning hours of Oct. 6, the baby woke up and began crying. Piche-Pitts prepared a bottle of formula, took the baby from the bassinette located directly next to her bed, and propped the baby up with a pillow next her to her in her own bed, and placed his head in the crook of her arm. Detectives say Piche-Pitts then fell asleep. When she woke up two-and-a-half hours later, the baby was unresponsive. He was pronounced deceased at Winter Haven Hospital. The baby was 18 days old.
Due to Piche-Pitts having received repeated warnings on the dangers of co-sleeping, multiple face-to-face counseling sessions, and educational information given to her about the dangers of sleeping in the same bed with her baby, detectives determined probable cause existed to charge Piche-Pitts with aggravated manslaughter of a child, due to the death of her baby through her own culpable negligence.
One of Piche-Pitts other children died from co-sleeping a few years earlier.
Investigators say on Dec. 4, 2009, Piche-Pitts fell asleep in her bed while breastfeeding her baby. When she awoke, the baby was unresponsive, and pronounced deceased by medical personnel at the hospital. The baby’s cause of death was ruled asphyxia “due to probable overlay and co-sleeping” and the manner of death was ruled an accident. The baby was 13 days old.
The Academy of Pediatrics, adapted their ‘safe sleep guidelines’ including recommending that [a baby should] “Share a bedroom with parents, but not the same sleeping surface, preferably until the baby turns 1 but at least for the first six months.”