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Kittanning mother charged with endangering 2-year-old

| Thursday, Nov. 14, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

The mother of a 2-year-old Kittanning girl who nearly died from allegedly being kicked and punched by a caretaker was charged with endangering the welfare of a child for not seeking proper medical attention for the girl.

State police filed the charge against Heather Ann Barden, 23, of North McKean Street on Wednesday and accused her of not taking the girl for medical attention on three occasions.

The charges against Barden are the second relating to the girl.

State police charged Bryant Kimball Yeaples, 22, of Hill Avenue, West Kittanning, with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person when he was contacted on Oct. 26 about a suspected child abuse victim in the emergency room at ACMH Hospital in East Franklin.

Police report Yeaples told authorities that the girl had swallowed four cigarette butts while in his care on Oct. 20, causing her to choke and turn purple. After patting her on the back and attempting the Heimlich maneuver, Yeaples got the cigarette butts out of her throat, but Barden never took the girl to the hospital, police report.

On Oct. 24, Barden left the girl with Yeaples a second time. According to a criminal complaint, Yeaples told investigators he gave the girl, and a 3-year-old and 4-year-old, a bath. Yeaples told police he left the three children unattended for a brief period and found the girl submerged in the bathwater and not breathing.

Yeaples claimed he patted her, possibly too hard, and squeezed her stomach to get the bathwater out of her system. Although he got her to start breathing again, he and Barden did not take her to the hospital for medical attention, according to the criminal complaint.

On Oct. 26, Barden found the girl to be lethargic, unable to speak, unable to stand on her own and suffering from swelling around her head and face. After an argument with Yeaples, police report, Barden drove the child to a former boyfriend's house for assistance and then headed to see her mother, Melody Krauser, in Ford City.

Police report Krauser told her daughter the girl needed immediate medical attention, but Barden said she did not want to take the girl to the hospital.

Krauser took the girl to the hospital, according to the criminal complaint.

Police report the child was unresponsive and had multiple facial bruises. She was flown to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, where she was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit.

A doctor at Children's said the girl's injuries included serious wounds to her liver, pancreas, kidneys, small intestine, stomach and ribs, according to court documents. There was blood in her abdominal cavity, fluid in her lungs and air outside the lungs in her chest cavity.

She had suffered multiple facial bruises, massive face and head swelling and bruising on her back and all extremities.

The doctor said the girl's injuries happened from “extraordinarily violent” actions toward her, including being repeatedly kicked and punched, and were inflicted by an adult.

The doctor “stated that this case was a near-fatality and (the girl) would have died without medical intervention,” according to court documents.

Police said they met with Barden on Nov. 4, and she admitted she was aware of the girl's injuries after being left with Yeaples. She left the girl with Yeaples while she was working in the Ford City Foodland store.

Barden told police she did not seek medical attention when she knew she should have, according to the criminal complaint.

During her interview with police, Barden told representatives from Armstrong County Children and Youth Services that Yeaples had threatened to kill the girl in the past, according to the criminal complaint.

Barden was not incarcerated, but Yeaples remains in the Armstrong County Jail on $50,000 bail.

Barden and Yeaples must attend preliminary hearings in District Judge James Owen's Kittanning courtroom at 9 a.m. on Nov. 20.

Brad Pedersen is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-543-1303, ext. 1337, or bpedersen@tribweb.com.

Brian C. Rittmeyer, a staff writer for Trib Total Media, contributed to this report.

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