Authorities arrested a Texas mother on July 10 after three of her children drowned in a swimming pool, reports Fox 40. According to a witness, 30-year-old Patricia Allen was distracted on her phone and not watching her children when they died.
Police in Irving, Texas, arrested the mother of five and charged her injury to a child. A court document states that authorities found Allen staring at the pool where her children had disappeared underwater. Police say she and her children did not know how to swim, reports CBS DFW.
Allen’s husband and friends dispute this, saying the three children were able to swim, and that Allen is innocent.
“Patricia Allen is far from a criminal,” Anthony Bond, who spoke on behalf of the family, told Fox 40. “She is a loving, caring, and one of the sweetest people I’ve met for the first time. And she’s a grieving mother.”
City records state that the swimming pool where the children died has been cited for poor visibility and malfunctioning gates, Fox 40 reports via the Dallas Morning News.
Allen took her five children to the apartment pool, where the three oldest, 9-year-old Treshawn Smith, 10-year-old August Smith and 11-year-old Anthony Smith, drowned.
Two other witnesses told authorities they saw Allen doing nothing, and the three children were nowhere in sight.
“They walked up to the pool and saw the mother sitting on the edge of the pool looking outward toward the deeper end of the pool and also observed that the water was still and calm, that there was no flapping or splashing or bubbles in the water,” Irving Police Spokesman James McLellan of the Irving Police Department said, reports Fox 40. “It was at that point that the mother stepped out."
Child Protective Services has taken custody of Allen’s two surviving children, ages 6 and 3.
CBS DFW reports that, according to Bond, who calls CPS’s actions “inhumane,” several neighbors and churches in the community had recently donated toys to the family, offered help, and adopted the family to move them into a house, so that they could get a fresh start.