An Ohio woman is facing involuntary manslaughter charges after killing her 3-month-old daughter in October. In October 2018, Saralin Walden used drugs and passed out on top of her daughter. When she woke up, her daughter wasn’t breathing. The baby girl died a few days later at a local children’s hospital.
According to prosecutors in Butler County, Ohio, Saralin Walden put her addiction before the safety of her child. Rae’Anna Stevenson was only three days from turning three months old. Instead of her family celebrating the milestone, they turned off her life support, and she died.
In court documents, the prosecutor said that Walden used, “illegal substances either at the time of or within proximity to the time of her caring for her child and passed out and/or fell asleep on top of the infant suffocating the infant,”
On an October day, Walden used drugs and passed out on top of her daughter. Rae’Anna suffocated under her drug-induced mother. When Walden woke up from her drug-induced haze, Rae’Anna wasn’t breathing.
Frantically, Saralin Walden called 911 to receive help for her daughter. A dispatcher walked the mother through CPR for several minutes. When paramedics arrived, they transported the baby to the hospital.
The final five days of Rae’Anna’s life were spent on life support. When doctors determined nothing more could be done, the family removed life support.
Initially, the police did not arrest the mother for the death of Rae’Anna. As the police investigated the case, the mother spiraled further into her drug addiction. In December, police arrested Walden after they found a glass pipe with methamphetamine residue in her car.
While Walden sat in Butler County jail, investigators continued to review the death of Rae’Anna. By March police determined that Walden’s drug use caused the death of her daughter. Already in jail for drug charges, police booked her on new charges of involuntary manslaughter.
Earlier this week, Butler County indicted the mother on involuntary manslaughter. According to The Enquirer, the mother sobbed in court as the judge read the charges. Saralin Walden promised the court to seek help for mental health issues.
In court, Daytona Daily News reported that Walden’s attorney said they planned to file a motion that states Walden is not guilty because of insanity. The court ordered a competency hearing for the mother in June.
While her court case plays out, many questions are remaining about her daughter’s safety during her short life. Only a month before Saralin killed her daughter, police found her passed out in her car. Authorities gave her Narcan after she suffered an apparent opioid overdose.
After police revived Walden, they charged her with drug possession. Despite the arrest for drugs, the Enquirer stated that there appeared to be no involvement between Walden and child protective services.
Then a month later, Walden nodded off again. Only on that day, she smothered her daughter to death.
On Walden’s Facebook profile she shared photos of her daughter and seemed excited to have a daughter. However, she also shared images and statuses about the opioid crisis.
Those closest to her were aware of her drug addiction. Rae’Anna’s grandmother told Fox19 that Saralin made terrible choices leading up to Rae’Anna’s death.
“I don’t want her to have to serve time, but I’m sure she will. I just hope that whatever comes Sara’s way that she will definitely learn from this and God please stop the drugs. This drug business is getting out of hand. It’s taking innocent lives and hurting families,” said the grandmother.
Children are also falling victim to the crisis. Drug overdose deaths associated with opioids are flooding the foster care system with children left behind. In the past few years, child protective services have removed thousands of children from the homes of addicts.
Not all children are lucky enough to survive their parent’s addiction. In Rae’Anna’s case, her mother put her addiction before her safety. After nodding off from the drugs, her mother smothered her to death.
Her mother had a long history of drug-related arrests, but the county did not step in to protect her. The failure of the county to protect the children is a clear indication of a system overwhelmed by children connected to the opioid crisis.
The crisis and heroin overdoses ravage Cincinnati. According to the Ohio Public Health Department, authorities have responded to 557 heroin overdoses in the past six months.
Children are the silent victims of this epidemic. Some make their way into foster care, and others like Rae’Anna die.
Despite efforts by the government to tighten the access to pain medication, addicts continue to find access to drugs. As pain medication becomes harder to find, many have turned to heroin.
Instead of Saralin Walden getting help for her addiction, she continued using and killed her daughter. If only authorities could have intervened in September 2018 and removed Rae’Anna from her care, she may still be alive today.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
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