Pennsylvania baby starves to death in cot after parents overdose.
A coroner said the case was ‘heart-wrenching’
After two young parents died of apparent drug overdoses in their Pennsylvania home, their baby died of starvation in her bassinet some four days later, according to authorities.
Jason Chambers, 27, and Chelsea Cardaro, died of fentanyl overdoses on or around December 15, in the family’s home in the Kernville section of Johnstown, a town about 60 miles east of Pittsburgh, a coroner’s office said this week. Their daughter, Summer Chambers, died of dehydration and starvation three to four days later.
The Cambria County coroner’s office in Pennsylvania said a neighbour found all the bodies on December 22.
Coroner Jeff Lees called the case “heart-wrenching”, and ruled the infant’s death homicide due to parental neglect.
He said that autopsy and toxicology reports confirmed that Summer died of in the family home in Kernville, about 60 miles east of Pittsburgh, a few days before Christmas. Her parents succumbed to fentanyl overdoses.
Drug levels in Ms Cardaro’s body were four times the lethal range, Mr Kees told reporters. The levels in Mr Chamber’s body were two-and-a-half times times above.
Chambers had overdosed before in November, but medical personnel revived him, according to Callihan. Authorities allowed the baby to stay in the home.
A representative from Children and Youth Services met with the parents “with the child present at the residence,” said Callihan. “They checked out the house, and it was appropriate to a child living there. There was plenty of food and the child seemed well taken care of,” she added.
Since both parents died at approximately the same time, no one was left to alert authorities or care for the baby, according to Johnstown Police Captain Chad Miller. “Being from out of town, not having anybody in town, it was too long for anybody to notice that they were missing,” he said.
Callihan said the tragedy “illustrates the ongoing issues that we’re having with overdoses” in the area.
“If you are addicted, if you’re using heroin and you have children, you’re endangering their lives,” Callihan said. “You need to get help for your children.”
Heroin deaths in the U.S. are skyrocketing. Last year, for the first time in more than 15 years, heroin caused more deaths than gun homicides, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Fentanyl is a potent prescription narcotic, usually prescribed to treat severe pain. Recreational usage spiked in 2015 when drug users began combining it with heroin. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued a nationwide alert on the substance that year, after a surge in overdose deaths.
Pennsylvania has been especially hard-hit by overdose deaths in recent years, according to the Centres for Disease Control. Mr Lees said this week that 94 people in Cambria County had died of drug overdoses in 2016. Sixteen more died in the first month of 2017.