Two Bledsoe County, Tenn., residents face charges of aggravated child neglect and neglect in the June 6 drowning of a toddler left unattended in a home pool, authorities say.
The toddler's uncle, Dustin Sweeney, and a woman authorities describe as Sweeney's girlfriend, Samantha Grenier, left 22-month-old Hailey Lashay Freeman-Sweeney and Grenier's 4-year-old daughter unattended, authorities said. The younger child drowned.
"The case is based on [witness] statements that the children were left unattended in the pool," 12th Judicial District Assistant District Attorney Jim Pope said Monday.
The death pushes the charges against Sweeney and Grenier, both 22, up to aggravated child neglect in the 22-month-old's case, Pope said. Both are charged with child neglect in connection with the 4-year-old, and Grenier also is charged with filing a false report, Pope said.
Sweeney and Grenier are scheduled for arraignment Sept. 28 in Bledsoe County Circuit Court, he said.
Bledsoe County investigator Ricky Seals said authorities believe Sweeney and Grenier walked away from the pool for a time while the girls were playing. When they returned, the younger child was unresponsive in the water and the other child still was playing, Seals said.
The pool, an inflatable that can hold up to 18 inches of water, was at the home of one of the younger child's grandparents, Seals said. He said Sweeney and Grenier were responsible for watching the children. There was no evidence that Sweeney and Grenier had been drinking, he said.
When the children were found and emergency personnel summoned, a couple of Emergency Services personnel who lived minutes away responded to try to revive the little girl, Seals said. They continued to work on the child at Erlanger Bledsoe hospital in Pikeville but were unable to revive her, he said.
"I determined that neglect was involved," Seals said. He said there were inconsistencies in the timeline Grenier gave investigators that resulted in the false report charge.
Sweeney and Grenier are being held on $25,000 bond each, officials said.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at 423-757-6569 or email@example.com.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...