A a 5-month-old Pennsylvania girl starved to death, having gone without food or water for an estimated four days following the drug-related deaths of her parents.
The body of Summer Chambers was found Thursday inside a bassinet in the Johnstown home where she lived with her parents. Her mother, Chelsea Cardaro, 19, and her father, Jason Chambers, 27, were also found dead in the house, reports People magazine.
“The pathologists said a child can live a couple of days without food or milk,” notes Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan. The baby “had no way to move from that bassinet,” she added. “This was a picture in my mind I’d rather forget.”
Authorities believe the mother and father died almost simultaneously. “Had they not died within minutes of each other, we believe one would have called 911 for help for the other,” said Callihan, who connected the tragedy to the nationwide rise in opiate abuse. “It’s so sad and really illustrates just how bad the heroin epidemic is, not only here but across the country.”
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President Barack Obama’s appearance on March 29 at the National Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit highlighted the severity of the problem, and its increased priority as a national health issue. Prior to the event, the White House said the president’s attendance was “part of his efforts to escalate the fight against the prescription opioid abuse and heroin epidemic.”
Chambers, Cardaro and their daughter were discovered dead by a friend, who immediately called 911. When police arrived they found “evidence of drug use and heroin” which is believed to have been “laced with something,” said Callihan. Tests are being performed on the heroin to determine if it contains any other chemicals.
Police were also called to the house in November after Chambers overdosed on heroin and had to be revived using an overdose antidote.
Following that incident, state child welfare authorities were contacted and visited the home on Dec. 7, during which time Cardaro “denied being a drug user,” Callihan explained, and the inquiry concluded that “everything was appropriate.”