Negligent Louisiana Mother Was Reported to the State Three Times Before Toddler Died from Overdose
State authorities are currently investigating how child services reacted to multiple reported overdoses before a toddler tragically died as a result of one in late June.
Whitney Ard, 28, was booked Tuesday on a charge of negligent homicide after an investigation into the death of her 2-year-old son. According to WBRZ, the child was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after his arrival.
UPDATE: Ard is now being held in jail as a judge has put a hold on her bond.
Arrest records identified the toddler as Mitchell Robinson III and according to his mother, the 2-year-old boy was behaving normally when she picked him up from her mother on June 25. Ard had just gotten out of jail after being locked up in May following a drug bust in her home.
According to Ard, she was lying in bed with her son the next morning when the little boy told her he was hungry.
The mother said she made a bowl of cereal, placed it on the floor next to her bed for the 2-year-old to eat and went back to sleep. Arrest records said she woke up later that morning to find the child back in bed "cold to the touch, unresponsive, with his fingertips, mouth, and tongue blue in color."
When paramedics arrived they found a friend of Ard attempting to resuscitate the toddler on the pavement outside. After first responders tried medicine that was unsuccessful, the mother told paramedics that Narcan had brought her son back in the past.
Unfortunately, Narcan was unable to bring back the little boy this time.
After investigators spent a month looking into the toddler's death, it was determined that he died from a fentanyl overdose. Deputies made note that they found the corner of a clear plastic bag "containing a white powdery residue" under the bed close to the cereal bowl that the young boy was eating from.
The WBRZ report states that deputies also noted at least two other instances where the boy overdosed and "both incidents were reported to the Department of Children and Family Services prior to the child's death."
On April 12, healthcare workers noted the child was suffering from respiratory failure and seizure-like symptoms, though his brain activity was not consistent with a seizure and "no seizure medications were needed," according to the report. The toddler was ultimately released back to his mother after being treated with Narcan.
East Baton Rouge Coroner Beau Clark called it a "significant failure" after a third overdose was reported to child services when a toxicology report "showed fentanyl in the boy's system."
A report from the WBRZ Investigative Unit shows that the child was not removed from the mother's care even after the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) was aware of at least three incidents before the tragic overdose that claimed the toddler's life.
Ard has been booked on a charge of negligent homicide as a result of the investigation with a bond set at $50,000.
DCFS released a statement early Wednesday morning, revealing that they are working with the office of the State Inspector General to "review every step of this case."
When we learned of the tragedy involving this child, we immediately began a comprehensive review of this case and all circumstances surrounding it. The Department has already taken numerous steps to make changes that range from policy changes to personnel actions. The review is ongoing. We are also working with the Office of Inspector General to review every step of this case and will not be able to comment further.
See the full story for more updates here via WBRZ.