A woman whose three children drowned in a swimming pool in Irving, Texas, has been charged with a criminal offense over the tragedy.
The Dallas Morning News reported on how Patricia Allen posted $50,000 bond at the Irving City Jail, according to police.
On July 10 the newspaper reported on how the mother was allegedly using her cellphone and failed to notice her kids going under water at an apartment complex pool, according to information derived from an arrest warrant affidavit.
Allen was arrested after the drowning deaths. She was charged with one count of injury to a child.
Police spokesman Officer James McLellan said the single charge “represents all three drowning victims,” the Dallas Morning News reported. The charge is a second-degree felony, which is punishable with two to twenty years in prison.
McLellan was quoted as saying the mother’s behavior was reckless. “She should have known that was behavior that could have led to the result it did.”
It’s unusual for cases like this to lead to a criminal charge. News reports stated these deaths were originally being investigated as accidental deaths, but during the course of the investigation police said they discovered “facts and evidence” of a crime.
Police said in a news release they consulted with Dallas County District Attorney’s Office which subsequently made the decision to file a criminal complaint.
August Smith, 10, died on June 24 after being pulled from one of the pools. Her two brothers, 11-year-old Anthony Smith and Treshawn Smith, 9, died the next day at the hospital.
News reports said Allen had her back turned to her three children as she played with two of her other children, Irving police stated. She screamed for help when she realized the three older children had gone underwater.
Rescue personnel were reported to have had trouble finding one of the children because the water was cloudy.
According to an affidavit, witnesses told investigators that even though Allen was facing the deep end of the pool, she failed to realize her children had disappeared.
Another witness told police that before the tragedy he believed Allen was texting and using her phone. He also said none of the children had any type of flotation device.
There were also conflicting reports about whether the children could swim. Allen had originally told police that neither she nor her children could swim, but in a subsequent television interview she claimed her kids had been swimming before. She then told police that her kids could only float on their backs and tread water.
Cases like these blur the lines between civil and criminal law and there are clear issues with bringing criminal charges. For one thing the pools in question – the MacArthur Place at 183 – had a history of problems including safety violations, according to city records. Under the Texas Penal Code a person acts recklessly if he or she “consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the circumstances exist or the result will occur.”
It can be a difficult standard to prove. If you are accused of an offense such as causing injury to a child, you should consult an experienced Dallas criminal defense attorney.