A 22-year-old Virginia mother has been charged with two counts of child neglect after police say she left her two young children inside a car for hours, which led to her son’s death. Brittney Downing, of Prince George County, was arrested Tuesday on charges of felony child neglect stemming from an incident that took place over the weekend.
According to police, the 22-year-old took her 18-month-old son and 2-month-old daughter to work with her on Sunday and left the babies in her car for the duration of her eight-hour shift. Later that evening, Downing called 911 to report that her son was unresponsive. First responders who arrived on the scene pronounced the little boy dead and rushed his sister to an area hospital.
The 2-month-old girl remains on a ventilator in critical condition.
Downing, who has several other unrelated charges pending against her, is being held in jail without bond. According to police, it was Downing’s third day on the job at Comfort Suites motel in Henrico County Sunday, and she decided to take her two small children along, presumably because she could not find anyone to watch them.
When she arrived at the hotel in Glen Allen, the 22-year-old mother left her children in the car while she went to work. Downing finished her shift that night and returned home to the Bailey Ridge apartment complex, where she lives with a roommate. At around 6pm, Downing called 911 and said that her son was unresponsive in a bedroom.
Paramedics who arrived a short time later attempted to revive the boy, but to no avail. They also noticed that Downing’s 2-month-old girl was ‘experiencing problems’ and rushed her to VCU Medical Center, where she is still fighting for her life.
Downing’s roommate and godmother to both her children, Adriana Williams, told the station NBC12 that she was there when officers arrived at their apartment. According to Williams, she was the one who noticed that something was not right with her young goddaughter and alerted the EMS workers.
Downing turned herself in to police Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, she appeared before a judge via video conference and said that she could not afford an attorney. Besides the child neglect charges, the 22-year-old has three court dates scheduled for four different counts: June 10 for larceny; June 19 for felony obtaining money under false pretenses and July 17 for speeding and driving under a revoked license, the radio station 99.3Kiss Richmond reported.
Meanwhile, Downing’s uncle, Antoine Scott, has spoken out about the tragedy, telling the TV station WTVR that his niece has asked God to forgive her for what happened. ‘I want them to know, that she is human, everybody is human,’ Scott said after the court hearing. ‘Unfortunately, this particular mistake cost the life of her son.’
According to her Facebook page, Downing, a native of New haven, Connecticut, studied electronics engineering at Norfolk State University and worked for the U.S. Navy.