A Bronx mother has been charged with second-degree manslaughter and endangering the welfare of a child after her 7-year-old daughter drowned in a pool while the mom drank alcohol at a hotel bar.
Erica Baez, 41, is being held without bail following an incident that occurred on January 13, 2022, at a Marriott Hotel in Melville, New York, the New York Post reported. On that fateful day, Baez allegedly left her 5-month-old baby alone in the hotel room and her 7-year-old alone in the pool as she ate and drank.
Baez had been staying at the hotel with her boyfriend and two children. The boyfriend had left for work in the morning, the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office said, according to the Post. Around 3:30 p.m., Baez allegedly asked hotel staff to open the indoor pool so her daughter, Katlyn, could swim. Workers warned the mother that there was no lifeguard on duty and that she’d have to stay with her daughter.
Baez allegedly left her daughter to go to the hotel bar, where she consumed an alcoholic cocktail, leaving her daughter alone in the pool for 30 minutes, according to prosecutors. Baez went to check on her daughter but again left her alone when she returned to their room to check on the baby, who had also been left alone. Baez then allegedly returned to the hotel bar and had a second cocktail, leaving her daughter in the pool again for another 30 minutes. This time, when Baez went to check on the girl, she found her “floating lifeless in the pool,” according to the district attorney.
But prosecutors alleged that Baez didn’t leap into the pool to try to save her daughter. Instead, she allegedly removed her shoes and socks and secured her phone before taking Katlyn out of the pool. First responders soon arrived, and Baez allegedly lied to them, saying she had only left Katlyn for five minutes. Katlyn was in cardiac arrest and had no pulse, WABC reported. EMTs revived Katlyn, but she was left with irreversible brain damage due to lack of oxygen, the Post reported. She had to be placed on a ventilator and feeding tube for two months following the incident, the district attorney’s office reportedly said.
Katlyn died on May 1, 2023, after spending more than a year on life support. She had become septic, the Post reported.
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Baez was arrested on May 15 and charged with second-degree manslaughter and two counts of endangering the welfare of a child for her actions, the district attorney’s office said. On Tuesday, she pleaded not guilty.
“The alleged actions of this defendant were selfish, senseless and heartless,” District Attorney Raymond Tierney said in a statement, according to the Post. “We are going to do everything we can to ensure that justice is served for little Katlyn, whose short life ended too soon.”