ADAMS COUNTY, Colo. - Witnesses say a mother was busy smoking cigarettes and marijuana while ignoring her 4-year-old son on the day he drowned in a Thornton pool in June.
Kayla Erin Barnett, 22, has now been charged with felony negligent child abuse in the drowning death of her son, Izaiah Lopez, Adams County District Attorney Dave Young said Wednesday.
The boy drowned on the afternoon of June 9 in a swimming pool at the Pine Lake Ranch Mobile Home Park, located at 4210 E. 100th Ave. in Thornton.
Izaiah, who could not swim, was found facedown in the adult lap pool and was not wearing a life vest, according to an arrest affidavit. Thornton police said the boy was visiting the pool with several family members.
Barnett told police she went to smoke in the clubhouse area while Izaiah was in the baby pool with other children surrounded by other adults. She claimed her son was wearing a black-and-yellow life jacket.
Barnett said she had been smoking for about 10 minutes outside the pool enclosure when she heard screaming and someone saying, "That baby is not breathing." She told police she walked toward the commotion and saw Izaiah being removed from the pool. The boy was blue and water was pouring from his mouth, nose and ears.
The mother said the boy was no longer wearing his life jacket and she said she didn't know how the boy got into the adult pool.
People attempted CPR on the boy and paramedics rushed him by ambulance to North Suburban Medical Center where he was pronounced dead, police said.
Police officers who were at the hospital when medical staff told the family the boy had died overheard a weeping Bartett say, "Why did I leave him alone like that?...he was wearing his vest."
Barnett's mother, Elizabeth Tillinghast replied, "He must have taken it off."
Several of Barnett's family members told police the mother had been smoking cigarettes for about 30 to 40 minutes outside the pool area when the boy drowned.
Barnett's aunt, Darlene Aguilar, told police the mother "wasn't watching Izaiah all that day."
Brenda Velasquez, a cousin of Barnett, said she didn't see Barnett "play with Izaiah the entire time they were there." "Brenda feels that the defendant neglected her responsibility to watch Izaiah," an investigator wrote in the affidavit.
Adult family members said Barnett didn't ask them to watch Izaiah, but the relatives said they played a lot with the boy in the pool because they'd only seen him about four or five times in his lifetime.
"Earlier in the day, Izaiah told Darlene (Aguilar) that it was the best day of his life and (Darlene) felt like he knew he was going to die," an investigator wrote in the affidavit.
Two relatives told police that, before the drowning, Barnett had got into a male relative's van to smoke pot with him, the affidavit said. But Barnett told police she doesn't drink alcohol around her son and added that "definitely no pot was smoked there."
Relatives also told police that Barnett's mother had told Barnett "to go watch the baby." But Barnett "told her mom, 'No,'" the affidavit said.
Witnesses and Barnett told police the little boy didn't like wearing the life vest because the other kids didn't have to wear them and he wanted to be a big boy, according to the affidavit. The boy at times took the vest off, but Barnett said she told the boy he had to wear the vest because he couldn't swim.
Yet, witnesses told police Barnett took the boy's life vest off while he was having lunch at the pool and she didn't put the vest back on afterward.
During the investigation, Barnett said to an investigator that friends had told her she was going to be charged in her son's death. "I don't think honestly…that I should be charged with anything, cause I'm a good mom," Barnett said.
About 50 people were in the pool and surrounding area when the boy drowned, police said.
7NEWS reported that there was no lifeguard on duty at the pool and signs clearly warned people they were using the pool at their own risk.
Barnett is charged with negligent child abuse resulting in death. She was advised of the charges in Adams County Court Wednesday morning and is due back in court on Friday. She remains in Adams County Jail on $20,000 bond.
Barnett has no prior arrests in Colorado, according to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation. But in 2012, a 26-year-old Boulder County woman was twice granted temporary protection orders against Barnett, barring her from contacting the woman, according to court records.