Why a Couple Too Wasted to Notice Baby's Death Shouldn't Be Charged

Julie Ryan Evans

angelA couple in Pennsylvania was too busy partying it up to notice their 2-month-old infant was dying.

Police say Jennifer Gaster and Daniel Martin, both 31, were drinking alcohol and doing cocaine the night before their daughter was found dead.

The couple has been charged with child endangerment and reckless endangerment after Gaster was heard talking about how drunk she had been the night before in the background when a friend dialed 911 to report the unresponsive baby.

Awful and unimaginable. Lock them up, right?

Well, the twist in this story is that the baby's death was ruled a result of SIDS -- a tragic loss of life even the most vigilant parent can't prevent.

According to the National SIDS Resource center, SIDS is the "sudden death of an infant under one year of age which remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene, and review of the clinical history."

And while there are plenty of ways to reduce your baby's risk -- like putting her to sleep on her back, not putting stuffed animals or blankets in the crib, and not allowing smoking around her -- SIDS is largely unexplainable and mostly unavoidable.

Even if the couple had been completely sober, they likely wouldn't have been able to save her IF it was truly a SIDS death.

If it was just a drugs charge, that would be one thing, but the child endangerment charges send up some red flags.

It feels like one of those slippery slopes. While what the couple did is irresponsible, I fear the greater evil in this case is the blame it casts on all parents who heartbreakingly lose children to SIDS.

Do you think this couple should be charged with endangerment in their baby's SIDS death?

Image via Brooke Anderson/Flickr

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