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Bolivar couple charged with endangerment; baby nearly drowned, police say

| Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, 10:39 p.m.

A Bolivar couple is facing felony charges because their baby almost drowned when she was left alone in a bathtub in a home in deplorable condition, according to police.

Christopher Bealonis Jr., 32, and Keirsten Bealonis, 28, have been charged with four counts of endangering the welfare of children. Christopher Bealonis was charged with a misdemeanor count of endangering the welfare of children and reckless endangerment for leaving the baby unattended.

They were arraigned Friday before Ligonier District Judge Denise Snyder-Thiel.

According to the affidavits written by Trooper John Zalich, the incident occurred the afternoon of June 22. In an interview, Christopher Bealonis told police he had put a pizza in the oven for a snack, Zalich wrote.

Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Calisti said the father had noticed the baby had soiled herself, and he got into the bathtub with her to clean her.

Christopher Bealonis realized he needed a towel, and he pulled the plug to drain the water, waiting until about 2 inches remained, according to the affidavit. He told police he went into the next room where the washer and dryer are, grabbed a towel and checked on the pizza. He put a load of laundry into the washing machine, he told police. As he was walking back to the bedroom, he could hear water running. He said he looked in the bathroom, and the cold water was running.

Calisti said he found the baby in the tub facedown and unresponsive.

Bealonis told police he started to perform CPR and yelled for someone to call 911, according to the affidavits.

The baby was revived by emergency responders and flown to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Calisti said. Police were notified the next day about 2:30 a.m.

The parents have custody of the baby, Calisti said.

The Bealonises did not return calls seeking comment.

The mother wasn't at home at the time of the incident but is being charged because of the deplorable condition of the home, Calisti said.

Zalich and two other officers entered the home under a search warrant obtained at District Judge Mark Mansour's office, according to the affidavits. State dog law enforcement officers accompanied them.

The affidavits said carpeting was “stained and shredded,” and “there was either no bedding on the beds or the bedding was soiled to the point that there was a strong odor coming from it.”

“Many of the rooms had junk piled in it, and the walls seemed to have indescribable substances smeared on them,” Zalich wrote.

“The kitchen was an utter mess; there were open food containers and garbage strewn about the floor.”

Police found a shotgun in an unsecured bedroom closet.

“There were kitchen appliances on the counter where the bathroom sink was located, creating a hazard,” Zalich wrote. “There were exposed wires hanging from the ceiling and walls.”

Numerous details in the affidavits for the defendants were redacted by the district judge, including the street and city where the incident occurred. An office worker at the district court said Thiel redacted the details because they reference children.

Melissa Melewsky, media law counsel for the Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association, said a district judge can redact the name of a victim who is younger than 18 in cases of physical or sexual abuse, and, to some extent, details that would identify the child. But a location identifying at least the street, city and county of the incident should be listed in court documents, Melewsky said.

District court records are governed by the “constitutional presumption of access,” which means judges must redact the minimum amount to comply with state laws, she said.

“I think (removing) the location might be too much,” Melewsky said.

Preliminary hearings for both Bealonises are scheduled for 10 a.m. Friday before Snyder-Thiel. They are free on $20,000 unsecured bail.

Nicole Chynoweth is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2862 or nchynoweth@tribweb.com.

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