PLAINFIELD— A 2-year-old boy here was severely burned on his legs, groin, buttocks, and back after being placed in a tub of scalding hot water.
Plainfieldpolice believe 37-year-old Irene Martin intentionally placed the boy in the tub after a potty training accident at her in-home daycare.
Martin initially told police that the toddler fell backward into a tub she had filled with water for the child and other children in her care to play in. She told police that after the child fell in, he was laughing and when she tried to pull him out of the “lukewarm” water, he slipped and hit his face on the side of the bathtub.
Martin said it was more than an hour later that she noticed the child’s skin peeling and called police. The boy was taken to St. Francis Hospital by medics and later transferred to the burn unit at Riley Hospital for Children in Indianapolis, where he remains. He is being treated for first-, second-, and third-degree burns.
Plainfield Police Capt. Darel Krieger said once Martin arrived at the police station, she changed her story from saying that the child fell into the bathtub to admitting that she had placed him in the tub to clean him up after an accident. Martin said the baby urinated on himself and she put him in a utility sink in her garage to clean him up. She said she left to get a change of clothes and when she heard the child begin to cry, she told him to remain in the sink. She said when she returned, she noticed steam coming form the sink and the child trying to push the faucet away from himself. She told police she then filled the sink with cold water and let the boy sit in the cold water while she put the other children down for a nap upstairs and then put her daughter on the school bus. It was after this, Martin says, that she pulled the child from the sink and noticed his skin sticking to a towel and called his mother and 911.
Investigators later spoke with Martin’s 5-year old daughter who told them her mother was mad because the child “ wouldn’t go potty.” She also said she saw “mommy” carry the child into the garage by the wrists and ankles because “that’s where the children go when they are in trouble.”
Martin, who has no criminal record, was arrested and later released on bond. She hired an attorney and made her initial court appearance on Thursday. She is charged with felony neglect of a dependent and two counts of felony battery. Her trial is scheduled to begin in January.
There is a restraining order keeping Martin from contacting the family of the burned toddler.
Investigators believe the water the child was placed in was about 137 degrees.
Children and older adults have softer skin and are more prone to scalding. Studies show that tap water at 140 degrees Fahrenheit can burn an adult’s skin in seconds. At 120 degrees, skin can be burned in five minutes. Those types of injuries can be prevented with safety measures such as thermometers, monitoring the temperature of water heaters, and monitoring children in and around water and bathtubs.
There are also agencies in place that help parents locate and evaluate child care services. The state’s website at http://www.in.gov/fssa has information on policies, procedures, and information on child care centers. Child Care Answers Resource and Referral Agency is a free service for central Indiana that has a database of more than 1,400 child care providers that they provide with training and mentoring opportunities.
In the wake of this tragedy, Child Care Answers will have a team of specialists on hand that can help families answer specific questions about child care and how to tell if a program is providing safe care. They may be reached by calling 631-4643. There are also tools and resources for parents at their website at http://www.childcareanswers.com.
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