Who's babysitting the kids??

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by CRC, Jun 6, 2007.

  1. CRC

    CRC Survivor of Tidal Waves | RIP 7-24-2015 Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Article published Jun 6, 2007

    Cops: Teen out all night
    Police say sitter drinking hours before drownings

    By Lisa Thompson

    WATERFORD -- Beer chilled in a cooler next to the Edinboro fire pit.

    Nineteen-year-old Brittany N. Steward's baby-sitting job started at home in southwestern Waterford Township early the next morning.

    Friends told police she stayed at the Edinboro bonfire party until after dawn, awake and drinking heavily.

    Steward reported the party's end to her friend in a text message she sent between 7 and 8 a.m. after she returned to her home to baby-sit.

    "OK im finally done drinking," Steward said in the text message. "im rocked."
    By noon, both of Steward's charges -- her 20-month-old half sister, Jenna Walker, and Jenna's 2-year-old best friend, Maggie Kovski -- were dead. Police said they drowned in the Walker family's backyard pond after Steward fell asleep on the couch and left the girls unattended for at least an hour.

    Steward told police she woke about 11 a.m. and followed a trail of children's toys from the house through the open garage door to the lawn outside.

    She said she looked across the yard and saw the children in the water.

    Jenna still had on her pink sleeper.

    Maggie, an only child who had been conceived with the help of a fertility clinic in Cleveland, had celebrated her second birthday earlier in the month.
    One day after the Kovski and Walker families held funerals for the girls at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church in McKean, state police arrested Steward on felony charges of involuntary manslaughter, alleging her gross negligence resulted in the girls' drowning deaths May 30 at the Walker home, 12333 Sharp Road.

    The criminal complaint, filed by Trooper Dale Wimer, for the first time reveals not only that police believe that Steward drank heavily in the hours leading up to her baby-sitting duties, but also that Kovski's mother, Renea Kovski, gave Steward repeated opportunities to back out of the baby-sitting job the morning the girls drowned.

    Steward was placed in Erie County Prison after failing to post $50,000 cash bond.

    Before announcing the charges Tuesday, state police Cpl. Mark Zaleski paused to express condolences to both the Walker and Kovski families.

    The case had been "extremely difficult" for all involved, he said.
    District Attorney Brad Foulk said his office and state police are "painfully aware of the sensitivities in this matter."

    Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook, who ruled the girls' deaths accidental, said that if anything positive can come from the "unspeakable tragedy," it might be to remind people that baby-sitting is more than a chore.

    "It is a serious business," he said.

    Police and prosecutors did not seek the families' input on the charging decision, Foulk said. But they did explain to them the charges before they were filed.

    Foulk said he expects some to question the decision to charge Steward and the severity of the charges against her.
    Police and prosecutors closely examined the law and the evidence before deciding to seek to hold Steward criminally liable, he said.

    "We feel comfortable the charges are appropriate and fair," he said.
    Police based the charges against Steward on inconsistencies in the information they said she provided about her actions leading up to the drownings. They also cited her knowledge of the danger posed by the pond and her decision to accept responsibility for the girls when she was not capable of taking care of them and when she was offered an opportunity to bow out.

    "Her ability to care for the children was directly affected by her actions leading up to the drowning," Zaleski said.
    The criminal complaint reveals a case built through several interviews of Steward's friends and family members in the hours and days after the drownings.

    Wimer alleges Steward made inconsistent statements as the events unfolded:

    When she first discovered the children in the pond and called 911 at 11:15 a.m., Steward told a dispatcher that the girls were playing outside and that she left them to answer the phone. She said she then found them in the pond.

    Later, she told a state trooper who had arrived at the scene that she had put the children down for a nap about 10 a.m., Jenna in her crib and Maggie on the floor next to the crib. Steward told the trooper, William McLellan, that she fell asleep and woke about 11 a.m. when the phone rang, police said.

    She described how she followed a trail of toys from the garage to an outside area near a larger detached garage. She said she looked across the backyard toward the pond and saw her family dog and the neighbor's dog jumping in. She said that as she got closer to the pond, she saw the girls' bodies in the water. She pulled them out and tried to perform CPR, police said.
    Police said Steward told them she had been at a bonfire party in Edinboro the night before and had drunk three beers and gone to bed at midnight.

    Witnesses, however, told police Steward had been drinking steadily throughout the night and left the party after dawn.

    Their accounts were backed up by the "im rocked" text message that Steward sent to a friend, which police found on the friend's phone.

    Steward told police she had placed Jenna in a crib before she, Steward, fell asleep. But police said Lynn Walker and her husband, Steward's stepfather, John, told them Jenna had never climbed out of her crib and had only just learned how to pull herself up on the rails.

    Jenna could barely see over the rails, police said.
    'Yes, I am fine'
    In the criminal complaint, police also focused on Steward's failure to back out of the baby-sitting job, even when Maggie Kovski's mother offered to care for the children herself.

    According to the complaint, Steward had previously promised her mother she would baby-sit Jenna on May 30 because Lynn Walker had to work.

    That morning, police said, Renea Kovski called the Walker home and asked if Steward also could watch Maggie for a few hours.
    Steward agreed to watch Maggie, Kovski told police. But when Kovski arrived at the Walker home about 8:10 a.m. to drop off Maggie, she found Steward sleeping on the couch and Jenna crying in her crib.

    Kovski told police she woke Steward and asked her what she was doing.

    Steward told Kovski she would be fine, that she was just really tired, Kovski told police.

    Kovski told police she let Steward sleep another 30 minutes while she played with the girls.

    Kovski said she placed Maggie in Steward's care only after she obtained Steward's repeated promise that she was able to stay awake and care for the girls, police said.
    Kovski said she told Steward to call her if she had trouble staying awake.

    She said she warned Steward that Maggie knew how to open doors.

    As she left the house, Kovski told police she closed both the doors to the garage.

    She said she asked Steward twice to lock them behind her.

    LISA THOMPSON can be reached at 870-1802 or by e-mail.
    What's next?
    A preliminary hearing is scheduled for June 11 before Summit Township District Judge James Dwyer.

    What I want to know is....
    The girl drank all night long until around 7am. The mother dropped the kid off at 8:10am, and didn't smell booze on the girl?

    This is just too horrific for me to even comprehend...all of it....
  2. Tracy

    Tracy Insatiably Curious Moderator Founding Member

    "...gave Steward repeated opportunities to back out of the baby-sitting job the morning the girls drowned. "

    Never ever second-guess your gut instincts.

    Prayers to all of the family members for their precious losses. I can't imagine their level of pain.
  3. kckndrgn

    kckndrgn Monkey+++ Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I agree, this girl was at an all night party, was drunk, and no one could smell alcohol on her?

    My prayers are to the families that lost loved ones, I don't know what I would do if something happened to my little one.
  4. CRC

    CRC Survivor of Tidal Waves | RIP 7-24-2015 Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    You are sooooo right , Tracy....if I listen to my head? It will screw me 9 ways to Wednesday...but my gut never steers me wrong...I have heard it, and not heeded it at times, and always lived to regret it...

    I'm with you...I can't imagine the pain this family is going through.....

    I can't begin to even pretend to feel it....
  5. poacher

    poacher Monkey+++ Founding Member

    My thoughts go to the family. This is also the reason I refuse to have a pool at my house. On the other hand, if I found the baby sitter sleeping and not able to stay awake then I'd tell her to go home and I'll come up with another plan.
    Take care Be safe Poacher.
  6. sheen_estevez

    sheen_estevez Monkey+++

    Really Really sad, I am so glad the grandparents are around and love to watch my kids at least I know they will always be safe
  7. ozarkgoatman

    ozarkgoatman Resident goat herder

    First let me say that yes this is very sad, and that my heart goes out to the families. That said, if the County Coroner has ruled the deaths accidental then how can she be charged with killing them? Secound, if someone had been drinking all night how in the #&!! could the parent not know??? NO!!

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