MIDDLETOWN — Police are investigating the death of an 11-month-old baby who possibly swallowed medication.
“It’s pretty tragic,” said police Lt. Jim Cunningham.
The baby’s mother, Taylor Franklin, 19, told authorities she found pills on the kitchen floor and her son, Gerald Passmore Jr., crawling nearby just before midnight Monday at the Trailbridge Townhomes complex in the 600 block of Lafayette Avenue. Franklin lives at the residence with her boyfriend, Adrian Talbott; the baby’s father, Gerald Passmore Sr., was outside the apartment talking to Talbott when Franklin yelled to them about the baby possibly ingesting some pills.
Franklin took the baby to Atrium Medical Center in Middletown, where he died shortly after 12:30 a.m. Tuesday, Cunningham said. The baby underwent an autopsy that did not immediately reveal an apparent cause of death, said Warren County Coroner Russell Uptegrove.
Investigators will not know what killed the infant until laboratory tests are complete, a process that takes about six to eight weeks.
No sign of foul play was found on the infant’s body; the death appeared to be a tragic accident, the coroner said.
“The child allegedly consumed some medication and subsequently passed away,” Uptegrove said, declining to name the medication. “There’s no suspicious findings in the autopsy, so I feel like it’s a significant possibility that’s actually what happened.”
A police report says the medication may have been Nifedipine. That drug is used to reduce blood pressure or treat chest pain. Talbott said those pills were Franklin’s. A police officer reported he saw the pill bottle and noted “it did not have a child-proof cap,” just a screw-on cap, a police report says.
Police obtained a search warrant, took photos and collected medications as possible evidence, as well as paperwork showing some prescriptions had just been filled on Monday, the report says.
The tragedy is every parent’s worst nightmare, said neighbor Sha’Ron Dotson, who also has young children.
“I just can’t believe it. Oh my god,” Dotson, 18, said. “I don’t have any medication in the house but when I do I keep it put up in my purse.”
Dotson and other neighbors said they recently moved to the complex and only know the family in passing.
“I stay to myself,” said Dotson, whose children are 2 and 4. “I am very protective of my kids.”
Another neighbor, Kristin Grau, 23, has three small children: 5, 3 and 2. She said she is constantly picking up “everything and anything” to make sure little hands do not put anything in little mouths.
“That’s the smartest thing you can do, put things up,” Grau said.
She said she always sees Franklin and her children playing outside and she seems like a good mother.
“The kids seem happy,” Grau said.
Detectives spoke with the mother at the hospital and are continuing to investigate. She has not been detained, and no charges have been filed.
Franklin’s other children, a month-old baby and two toddlers, 3 and 2, were in the home at the time of the incident, Cunningham said.
The newborn was checked at Atrium and released to a relative. The two older children were taken to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center for evaluations.
Tiffany Riley lives a block down from the family and attended Middletown High School with the mother.
“I feel so sad for her,” said Riley, 20, as she cradled her own six week-old son, Antonio. “I wish I could see her and make sure she is OK. She is a good mom. She is never in trouble. She does everything a mom is supposed to do. We’d always see her out taking care of them.”
Janice Morse contributed to this story.