Drowned girl's mother is charged
By Nathan Golden
HARTWELL Hart County authorities have filed involuntary manslaughter charges against the mother of an 11-month-old girl who drowned in the family's bathtub two weeks ago.
Tonya Lee Parker, 31, of 135 Kotal Road in western Hart County, was arrested Tuesday morning and released on $10,000 bond. Mrs. Parker was at home when her youngest daughter, Alyssa McKenzie Parker, slipped under her bath water on Sept. 17.
The 11-month-old Alyssa survived on life support at Greenville Memorial Hospital for three days. She died on Sept. 20.
Hart County Sheriff Mike Cleveland made it clear Thursday that investigators aren't accusing Mrs. Parker of any criminal intent leading to the death of her child.
"But she's in charge of that child," Sheriff Cleveland said. "When you neglect that charge and a death results, the state has no choice but to charge her."
In an interview on Sept. 20, Mrs. Parker said she had been up all night with her sick daughter and was preparing to give her a bath on Sept. 17 when a group of Jehovah's Witnesses knocked on her door. She said she started talking to the visitors, whom she knew, and forgot that her daughter was in the bathroom.
The baby's father, Danny Parker, attempted to revive her until an ambulance arrived about 17 minutes after Mrs. Parker called 911. Mrs. Parker claimed responsibility for her child's death but said she said she believed her life could have been saved if medical help had arrived sooner.
In a Sept. 20 interview, Hart County Emergency Medical Service Director Terrell Partain said the Parkers' newly named drive had not yet been entered into the county's 911 database on Sept. 17, which delayed efforts to find the family's home, probably by at least seven minutes.
If she is convicted of involuntary manslaughter, Mrs. Parker won't necessarily serve jail time, Sheriff Cleveland said. He said a judge could sentence her to intensive probation if he chooses to.