DSS will contact law enforcement if they can not find child or family within 72 hours.


Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The Department of Social Services changed a policy late Wednesday that requires caseworkers to contact law enforcement if they cannot locate a child or family within 72 hours of a report of abuse or neglect.

It all happened after a medical official called DSS, saying 5 month old Bryson Webb wasn't wearing a small heart monitor doctors said he needed.

The monitor would sound an alarm if Bryson stopped breathing so someone nearby would know to begin life saving measures.

"His mother did not take care of him," Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said. "The monitor that was his life line wasn't hooked up. We're able to check the monitor and you can tell when it was used and what the results was. So, it has a record."

Lott said the record shows Bryson didn't wear that monitor almost the entire month before he died.

"No question at all anywhere this monitor should have been on this child," said Richland County Coroner Gary Watts who handled the boys autopsy.

Watts said at the press conference Wednesday, DSS waited 49 days to call back the medical professional who origionally reported to DSS that baby Bryson was not wearing the monitor.

Watts says that professional had regular contact with the baby and his mother Jennifer Coles.

Coles, 28, is charged with neglect and was given a $10,000 bond.

Lott says those charges could increase and additional people could be arrested.

DSS Director Lillian Koller released a statement saying, "The Department of Social services began investigating this case immediately, which involved having a caseworker physically attempt to locate this family five different times, including at night and on the weekends.

"Despite the very best efforts of DSS, there are tragic cases where the system as a whole is not able to prevent a child from being harmed by their own parents."

"We found her," Lott said. "The medical professional who reported her to DSS knew how to find her, knew where she was at, had phone contact with her. Personally I wish they would have done more. We might have a child that's alive."

Read or Share this story: http://on.wltx.com/1jjqGWR