INDIANA (KDKA) – Charges have been filed against the parents of an Indiana County child, who drowned in a bathtub earlier this month.
According to police, the incident happened on Feb. 2 in White Township.
After an autopsy, the coroner said 13-month-old Ryden Wesley died while in the bathtub with his 2- and 3-year-old siblings.
The boy’s mother, 28-year-old Tonya Thomas, told police she left the children unattended for just a few minutes while they were in the bathtub.
When she returned, the boy was found face down in the water.
On Wednesday, Tonya Thomas was charged with criminal homicide, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person.
The Indiana County District Attorney told reporters during the news conference that “at first you would think the drowning death of a 13-month-baby boy is a tragic accident.”
The child’s father, Wesley Thomas, has also been charged with endangering the welfare of children.
During the press conference, the district attorney said it was routine for the mother to leave the children unattended in the bathtub on a regular basis.
“In this specific incident, the father was in a totally different room of the house. We’ve been informed that the mother not only left the bathtub to take a text message from her mother, but then she went downstairs in the home to take care of some other matters such as laundry, possibly preparing medication, preparing a snack,” Indiana County District Attorney Pat Dougherty said.
Police said she was relying on her 3-year-old daughter to provide supervision of the other children in the tub.
Investigators say Tonya Thomas told them her 3-year-old always told her when something was wrong, but this time she didn’t.
A neighbor, Misti Sadler, who had called CYF on the couple previously, told KDKA’s Brenda Waters that she expected a charge of neglect but not homicide.
Both parents turned themselves in to state police Tuesday night. They are currently being housed at the Indiana County Jail.
The District Attorney says he is seeking third degree murder. If convicted, Tonya Thomas could serve 20 to 40 years.