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Pasco Tribune

Infant severely burned in 142-degree water; Pasco mom charged

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Published:   |   Updated: March 19, 2013 at 03:39 AM
PORT RICHEY -

A Port Richey woman was accused of running scalding water over her 7-week-old baby boy, burning him so severely that his skin bubbled and a nipple came off when his shirt was removed at a hospital.

Chekayla Ariel Dampier, 18, was arrested Tuesday night and charged with aggravated child abuse. She was being held at the Land O' Lakes jail. Her bond was set at $150,000.

She told Pasco County Sheriff's investigators she was "frustrated" because the baby was crying "for hours," according to a detective's affidavit.

Dampier said she put the child in an infant washtub and ran hot water onto his head for two to three minutes because he had been crying for hours, according to detectives. Forensic technicians measured the water at 142 degrees.

Dampier said the baby's skin was bubbling and parts of it came off when she tried to dry him with a towel, the affidavit said.

Maria Fernandez, who described herself as the baby's godmother, said Dampier called her Monday because she was concerned about the baby. Dampier initially blamed someone else for the baby's injuries.

"When I see the baby, I say, 'No - that's not normal,' " Fernandez said. "The baby was different. I was so scared and nervous, I got sick. I threw up and my body was shaking."

Fernandez said she rushed Dampier and the baby to North Bay Hospital in New Port Richey about 10 p.m. Monday. The boy was eventually taken by helicopter to the pediatric burn unit at Tampa General Hospital, according to the affidavit.

Physicians said the child suffered severe second-degree burns to his head, chest, arms, eyes and ears, according to the affidavit. When medical staff removed his shirt, his left nipple pulled away, the affidavit said.

Doctors at Tampa General Hospital told investigators it was too early to say how badly the child's eyes and ears may have been damaged. Spokeswoman Ellen Fiss said he is still in critical condition.

Dampier had announced the baby's birth and posted a photo of him on her Facebook page, with messages like: MOMMY AND DADDY LOVE U…

Fernandez was devastated to learn that Dampier had admitted to harming the child. "I know she's young, but I don't know how a mother could hurt her baby," she said. "I love that little girl – but I love the baby more."


lkinsler@tampatrib.com (813) 371-1852

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