Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott says a woman did not put a required heart monitor on her baby for weeks, which ultimately led to the child's death.
Lott held a news conference Wednesday afternoon alongside Richland County Coroner Gary Watts, where both discussed the death of 5-month-old Bryson Webb.
Webb died April 22nd when he stopped breathing, Watts said. His mother, 29-year-old Jennifer Coles, was arrested Tuesday and charged with unlawful neglect of a child.
Previous Coverage: Woman Arrested in Child's Death
According to Lott, Webb was born premature, and when he left the hospital, Coles was given a heart monitor that the child needed to wear at all times. The device works by sending out an alarm if the child's heart stops beating or the baby isn't breathing.
"It's critical that the monitor could stay on this child at anytime," Watts said.
However, since January, Lott said medical personnel reported that the monitor was only used sporadically. In fact, Lott says the monitor hadn't been used since March 28th. When the child ultimately died in a car seat, the sheriff says the monitor was in the trunk of the car.
"She was not going to go out of her way to make sure the monitor was hooked up to make sure that he didn't die," Lott said. "It's a disturbing case to all of us...to see a child's life taken when it could have been prevented, and the one responsible is the one that brought him into this life."
Lott said charges will likely be upgraded. Wednesday morning, a judge set bond for her at $10,000.
"We have to be his voice," Lott said. "We have to speak for him we have to make sure justice is done by his death."
Lott also addressed the Department of Social Service's involvement in the case. He said DSS was notified on March 3rd by a member of the medical profession about the care the child was receiving. But according to Lott, DSS took 49 days to return the initial intake call.
Department of Social Services officials say an investigation was opened March 4, but the family, according to DSS, could not be located despite repeated attempts. Lott, though, says medical staff always knew where she was and how to contact her-but they were never contacted.
"We found her," Lott said. "We've been able to find her. It wasn't impossible."
DSS Director Lilian Koller released a statement Tuesday about the death:
"The thousands of dedicated employees at the Department of Social Services work hard every day to protect children who are in some of the worst imaginable circumstances, and they succeed in serving and protecting thousands of children.
"There are a small number of tragic cases in which their best efforts do not succeed, as in this case where we could not locate Baby Webb and his apparently transient family after repeated attempts."
"We will always be looking for ways to improve performance in the Department until we reach a day when no children in South Carolina are neglected or abused."