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Mom Charged In Death Of 9-Month-Old Who Choked On Car Seat Buckle

Summer Kazzee claimed that when she put her 9-month-old daughter into an old car seat for a nap, she was "rocking herself to sleep." When the mother returned, however, she was unresponsive and had the buckle in her mouth.

By M.L. Nestel

A previous version of this story reported that the subject's prior child had died of starvation, as multiple outlets had reported. It was brought to editors' attention that the child did, in fact, survive, and was placed into foster care. The story has been updated to reflect those facts. Oxygen.com regrets the error.

An Arkansas mom on parole has been sent back to jail after her infant daughter choked to death on a child's car seat buckle. 

Summer Kazzee, 22, was arrested on Thursday and charged with negligent homicide in the August death of her 9-month-old daughter, Garland County Jail records show.  

Kazzee previously served three years in prison after being convicted of endangering the welfare of a minor in 2016, after her newborn son was hospitalized, having been found showing signs of starvation, according to the probable cause statement reviewed by Oxygen.com.

"The infant appeared to be dehydrated and starving prior to being admitted to the hospital and the child/parents failed to show at the [primary care physician] on at least two appointments," the document states.

That 2-month-old child weighed less than he did at birth, but survived and was placed into foster care, court documents show.

On Aug. 17, Hot Springs authorities were dispatched to Kazzee’s home based on reports of an unresponsive child. 

Once there, firefighters attempted to perform CPR on Kazzee’s 9-month-old. The infant was rushed to National Park Medical Center where she was pronounced dead, according to an affidavit first reported by The Sun-Sentinel-Record.   

Summer Rose Kazzee Pd

Kazzee told investigators that she set her daughter and her twin sister down for a nap on a bed in the rear bedroom at around 3 p.m., according to the probable cause affidavit reviewed by Oxygen.com.

She claimed her daughter began making a fuss and refused to fall asleep on the bed.

Kazzee allegedly said her daughter "would not lay down and kept getting off the bed."

So, the mother allegedly placed her daughter in a rear-facing infant car seat set on the floor, according to the affidavit.

The mother maintained that she fastened her daughter into the seat with both the top and bottom straps, and that the child began “rocking herself to sleep.” 

The mother then allegedly closed the bedroom door and left the twins alone while she adjourned to the living room in the front of the house. 

At 4:30 p.m., Kazzee said she returned to check on her twins and saw that her fussy child was alert and “even clapping her hands.”

At 5 p.m., hearing only silence from the bedroom, Kazzee leaped from the couch to beeline it to the bedroom, she told investigators.

The mother said she found her daughter still in the car seat, but she had “the thing in her throat" —  apparently referring to the seat buckle. The mother pulled the child from the car seat and "took her outside, and called for help," the affidavit states. 

When asked by a Hot Springs Police Department detective if the buckle was fastened, Kazzee reportedly said that she tied a buckle around the bottom buckle so that her daughter "would not mess with it."

The mother also added that she “may not have buckled it all the way,” according to the affidavit. 

Pressed about why Kazzee relied on her daughter’s old infant "Baby Trends" car seat, because it was allegedly "the only car seat she had at the time" and that her "normal" one was left with the child's father.

On Monday, authorities charged Kazzee with the misdemeanor charge of negligent homicide, defined by state code as a person who “negligently causes the death of another person.” If found guilty, she could be sentenced up to one year in jail. 

Kazzee remains in a Garland County lockup after failing to post $5,000 bond. She expected to be back in court on Nov. 18, according to jail records.