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Sheriff: Infant's death at Indian River County homeless shelter likely caused by co-sleeping

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Posted at 9:08 AM, Aug 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-03 12:07:40-04

INDIAN RIVER COUNTY, Fla. — The Indian River County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an infant’s death Friday morning at a homeless shelter.

Eric Flowers with the Indian River County Sheriff's Department said a frantic mother called 911 around 6 a.m., saying her 6-month-old son was unresponsive at the Samaritan Center, located at 3650 41st St.

Paramedics arrived and performed CPR, but unfortunately the child was pronounced deceased at the scene.

Flowers said at a news conference it appears the cause of death was suffocation and likely had to do with co-sleeping.

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Flowers said there was a crib in the infant's room at the shelter, and he warned parents that co-sleeping is not recommended and can quickly turn into a tragedy.

"We see this way too often," said Flowers. "It's just a terrible, tragic situation. We hope this will serve as a warning that this is very dangerous."

The center is currently open and operational, and there is no negligence on the part of the facility, Flowers said.

"If you have an option of the crib, if you have the option to not put them in the bed with you, be safe about this," said Flowers.

According to Flowers, an autopsy is being performed on the baby on Friday, and depending on the results of the autopsy, charges may be filed against the boy's mother.

"There would have to be more to it," said Flowers. "We'll look into that and we'll work with DCF as well."

One woman told WPTV she received a text message from the infant's mother Friday morning saying when she woke up, her baby wasn't breathing.

The Samaritan Center bills itself as a "long-term transitional residential facility for homeless families in Indian River County with a structured step-based program with onsite 24-hours a day case managers that help pregnant women and homeless families develop the life skills needed for successful reintegration into mainstream society."

For more information on safe sleep practices for infants, click here.