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West Virginia mom admits to nearly drowning son

| Tuesday, July 3, 2012, 10:03 a.m.
Allegheny County District Attorney's Office
Sharon Flanagan, 33, was arrested July 2, 2012, and charged with attempted homicide, aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child, and recklessly endangering another person.

A West Virginia toddler is clinging to life at Children's Hospital because his mother tried to drown him in a bathtub in a Green Tree hotel, police said.

Steven Flanagan, 2, had no brain function and multiple bruises Tuesday, two days after the incident at the Best Western Parkway Center Inn, police said.

Allegheny County detectives charged his mother, Sharon Flanagan, 33, of Inwood, with attempted homicide, endangering the welfare of a child, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment for assaulting her child in a hotel room. The arrest was made because Flanagan offered different versions of the incident, police said.

The boy's unidentified father was in West Virginia at the time of the incident.

“Things didn't seem right,” Lt. Andrew Schurman said. “We started interviewing people, and it became obvious that it was more than just an accident.”

Flanagan first told police the boy was swimming and ended up face-down. She told police she couldn't remove him from the tub.

Flanagan said she stopped in initial rescue efforts because of back pain. She put on a back brace before trying to remove the boy but could not pull him from the water. She then said a wash cloth lodged in the drain, and she held the child's chin above the water while removing that.

Detectives said Flanagan never asked about her son or requested to see him during her first interview.

In a second interview, Flanagan said she grabbed her son by the arm and leg as he submerged, but she was unable to pull him from the water, police said.

“She felt like something was actually pulling him towards the bottom of the tub,” police said.

Other hotel guests called 911 when they found Flanagan screaming and running up and down the hallway, police said. A security guard and hotel guests pulled the boy from the bathtub and began resuscitation until paramedics arrived.

Flanagan is being held in Allegheny County Jail in lieu of a $250,000 bail. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for July 12.

Margaret Harding is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-8519 or mharding@tribweb.com.

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