Marysville, WA – A 911 call was made on Monday to report an unresponsive infant found inside a car on a gravel road. Responders found an 18-month-old girl dead along with her 2-year-old sister who was unconscious and struggling for life. The toddlers were found on the Tulalip Indian Reservation in an area littered with abandoned houses. Tulalip Tribe Chairman Mel Sheldon stated that the toddlers, whose parents are separated, did not live in the area but that “it’s a place where people gather once in a while.”
Sheldon described the scene as “terribly tragic,” commenting that “the police officers, the medical technicians, many of them were so heartbroken, that many of them, who’ve done this time and time again, were actually crying because it just touched their heart.”
When officials arrived at the scene, they were forced to wear hazmat suits because of the surrounding conditions. Tribal leaders believe that the area where the children were found is a drug house. The house, according to NBC News, “sits among dilapidated homes with tin roofs and boarded up windows and was clearly no place for children.”
The 18-month-old girl was taken to Providence Medical Center in Everett where she was later pronounced dead. The Department of Social and Health Services later identified her as Chantel Craig. Chantel’s sister was taken to Children’s Hospital in Seattle. She is being treated for severe dehydration but is expected to fully recover. Officials believe that the children were left alone in the abandoned car for days.
The girls’ mother, who called 911, has been arrested. She has a DUI on her record for which she was sentenced to jail time but never showed up to fulfill her sentence. Allegedly, a child-abuse case had been initiated by the Department of Health and Social Services in regards to the 18-month-old, but, for undisclosed reasons, the case was later closed. No initial court date has been set. The US Attorney’s office will be prosecuting the case, which will begin in Tribal Court.
The girls’ father is currently with his surviving daughter at the Children’s Hospital.
“Our community is in grieving right now,” comments Sheldon. “Not only for the little one who continued her journey, but the parents. Anytime we lose somebody it just affects us so much.”