An Alabama grandmother is allegedly responsible for the death of her 19-month-old grandson, who swallowed the woman’s methadone stash and overdosed.
Michelle Lee Light, 44, was charged on Monday with chemical endangerment of a child resulting in death, according to Jefferson County online court records. Her grandson, Journey Dorman, was found unresponsive while in the woman’s care last year, authorities say.
The incident reportedly happened in July 2018 in the town of Sylvan Springs in west Jefferson County, about 13 miles west of Birmingham.
“During that time, Michelle Light allowed the child to have access to and ingest a controlled substance,” a Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office press release stated.
“The toxicity of that substance caused the death of the child. ... Journey Dorman suffered a tragic death due to the recklessness of the person who was supposed to protect him from danger,” the press release added.
When Light became aware that something was wrong with her grandson, police say she attempted to seek medical care for Journey, but failed to alert emergency responders to the possibility that the infant ingested methadone, which could have allowed medics to counter the overdose. Her grandson was treated at the home and was later transported to the hospital where he died hours later. Toxicology reports later revealed that the child had methadone in his system.
“Light allowed this substance in the area where the child was able to access it and ingest it,” David Agee, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office public information officer, told media during a press conference on Monday.
Agee noted that had first responders known, they could have treated the overdose with naloxone — or NARCAN — which can counteract opioid overdoses.
Yet, it took a full year of investigations before law enforcement decided to press charges against the Alabama grandmother. But authorities were tight-lipped on Monday when pressed on the investigation’s timeline.
“Some investigations take a long time,” Agee explained. “The point is, it is clear to us that this was truly reckless conduct."
Agee also noted that the dead child’s parents, who weren't named, are working with authorities.
“The other family members have been very cooperative,” he said. “They’ve always wanted justice for this child from the very beginning.”
Police, who had issued an arrest warrant for Light earlier this summer, had been searching for the woman since July 10. Authorities arrested her Saturday during a traffic stop.
“She may not have been in the area for some time,” Agee stated.
Agee didn’t respond to Oxygen.com’s request for comment.
Light is currently being held on a $500,000 bond. She’s being held at the Jefferson County Jail in Birmingham.
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