Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Bug bomb" overdose kills infant

Locally, the big story this week is the death of a baby from "bug bombs"--the popular over-the-counter, automatic-spraying insecticides his mother set off in her trailer (a very small, closed-in space) several times a week.

She sounds uneducated, and didn't completely understand the hazards. (She was covered with it herself.) I wonder if she could read the label?

Bug bombs may have killed Williamston infant, coroner says
Baby's mother, brother treated for breathing problems

By Eric Connor • Staff Writer • November 3, 2009
Greenville News

Over-the-counter insecticides are likely what caused the death of a 10-month-old Williamston boy over the weekend and left his older brother and mother in the hospital, an investigator said Monday.

However, additional tests that will measure chemicals inside 10-month-old Jacob Whitfield’s body will be conducted over the next several weeks to definitively determine the cause of death, Anderson County Deputy Coroner Don McCown said.

An autopsy discovered no signs of “injury, trauma or neglect,” McCown said.

“At the present time, we’re tentatively leaning toward that, but we’ve still got a lot more to look at,” McCown said.

Emergency workers arrived at Whitfield’s home on 104 Kirsch Drive on Sunday afternoon to find his mother, Elizabeth Whitfield, trying to resuscitate him after the baby suffered breathing problems, McCown said.

Jacob Whitfield later died at AnMed Hospital from cardiac arrest, McCown said.

Later that evening, emergency workers were again sent to the home when his older brother, 2-year-old Kenneth Whitfield, had breathing problems, McCown said.

Kenneth Whitfield was transported to Greenville Memorial Hospital, where he remained in critical condition Monday in intensive care, but “things look optimistic,” McCown said.

Elizabeth Whitfield also was treated at the hospital, McCown said. Her clothes were so saturated with chemicals that she had to take a shower and change clothes, he said. She was observed at the hospital but wasn’t critically affected, he said.

The mother told authorities that she had been using indoor insecticides — commonly known as “bug bombs” — to eradicate a roach problem, McCown said.

The singlewide mobile home sits in a thickly wooded area off U.S. 29, he said, and an insect problem was evident.

The mother apparently set off the insecticides “several times a week,” McCown said. A hazardous materials team was called out to the scene, he said.

The mother told authorities that her boys felt sleepy Sunday and took a nap, which is when Jacob Whitfield became unresponsive, Anderson County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Scott White said.
It's just such a tragedy. And it certainly underscores the dangers in "household chemicals" presented on TV as handy-dandy cure-alls for every situation.

Many of us talked about being students or clueless young wives, who probably set off too many bug bombs ourselves. We knew enough not to leave humans or animals inside, but we likely did it too often for safety. Back in the day, they didn't even print any 'limits' on the packaging, and it is likely Whitfield didn't grow up with any limits on the bug bombs her family used.

If we'd get rid of these dangerously-noxious and toxic chemicals for everyday uses, these things wouldn't happen. Then again, I dislike the nanny-state as much as many of the rest of you do...

Any comments on how to avoid these types of tragedies, particularly when dealing with illiterate people or non-English speakers?


Note: Although I am tagging this one with "child abuse" (for cataloging purposes), I realize this was not deliberate on the part of Elizabeth Whitfield.


D. said...

That is so sad (I loathe--make that loathe roaches, so I got that). My heart goes out to the survivors.

I hope something can be done for them.

JoJo said...

Oh man that's just awful. What a terrible, yet preventable, tragedy. That woman will suffer with guilt the rest of her life. What a horrible thing to have to life with those disgusting disease carrying roaches to begin with.

A few years ago when we had a big storm, the power was out in the region for 1-14 days, depending where you lived. Several non-English speaking people died when they brought their grills and hibachi's inside to warm their homes.....

JoJo said...

"live" with, not "life" with. lol

Rootietoot said...

I wonder if she was dealing with roaches or palmetto bugs (also roaches,but not those nasty german ones). It's very sad, I imagine she thought she was doing the right thing trying to keep the bugs away. I have a thing about roaches as well, and can sort of understand what she was trying to do.

Doc Anchovy said...

On the other hand: well spoken, well written and ostensibly well educated folks have come up with all kinds of ways to exterminate themselves.

Cars, bombs, drugs, you name it.

Two years ago today, my Best Friend Ever, finally drank herself to death.

BTW, roaches have a bad rap. They are the ultimate "recyclers" and are no where near as dirty and disease laden and we have been lead to believe. Ask an entomologist, not The Orkin Man.

Marshall-Stacks said...

Very sad that she was trying to be clean and was punished with a tragedy for not reading/understanding the fine print on the product.
Let us hope that she and the surviving children get into a proper home soon.

sheila said...

How incredibly tragic. Maybe pictures would help. My gosh, this story stresses the importance of an education...even at a very basic level. Chances are though that she could read...maybe just didn't?

Sometimes I don't read fully through stuff. My God, how sad. Poor family.

OH, and btw, how profound you are Miss Daisy with that snappy zen comment on my blog today. My so smart and a brilliant response!

Doc Anchovy said...

&alpha said...

Definitely a tragedy that something like this can happen just because lack of knowledge and precautions.

hemorroides causas said...

It's very sad, I imagine she thought she was doing the right thing trying to keep the bugs away.