KNOXVILLE—The operator of an unlicensed Tennessee daycare center has been indicted on two counts of criminally negligent homicide in connection with the drownings of a set of twins at her home.
News outlets report the indictment of Jennifer Salley was handed down last week.
Authorities say toddlers Elijah and Elyssa Orejuela were found in the deep end of the pool at the Knox County daycare on July 20.
The twins, who were nearly 2 years old, later died at a hospital.
The parents’ lawyer, Wayne A. Ritchie II, released a statement to WVLT News Anchor Amanda Hara.
Babysitter indicted on homicide charges in relation to twins’ deaths https://t.co/mCt8GLUzAo
— WVLT News (@wvlt) June 11, 2019
“Those who care for children have a responsibility that cannot be shirked. The pain and terror these children endured as they lost their lives haunts these parents, as it would any parent. The family hopes this case brings accountability and prevents other families from having to endure such a tragedy.”
An investigation by the Knox County Sheriff’s Office led to the indictment. It’s unclear where officers arrested Salley.
The toddler’s parents filed a wrongful death lawsuit last month against Salley, seeking compensatory and punitive damages that could total more than $50 million.
It wasn’t immediately clear if Salley had a lawyer who could comment.
Erin Fielden and Jennifer Lane, friends from the toddler’s parents, Amelia and Ricky, started a GoFundMe page to help ease the financial burden of this tragic incident.
“We can’t imagine Amelia and Ricky’s pain, but let’s help ease the financial burden. We are asking for any donations to help with Funeral expenses, medicals bills, time off work. Whatever they need!” Erin and Jennifer posted on the GoFundMe page.
The GoFundMe has raised over $41,000.
According to the National Safety Council, 74 percent of drowning incidents involving children younger than 15 from 2015 to 2017 occurred in residential areas.
Drowning is the leading cause of death for young children, according to the National Safety Council—mostly due to falling into a pool or being left in a bathtub.
The CPSC states, “Of the 3,786 drownings in 2016, more than 12 percent were children age 4 and younger, according to Injury Facts. Bathtubs, toilets and even buckets also can pose a danger for very young children.”
Mom Convicted of Manslaughter
A Brooklyn jury on June 4 found a young mother guilty of manslaughter in the drowning death of her 2-year-old daughter.
Lin Li, 27, now faces up to 25 years in prison for repeatedly forcing the toddler’s head underwater as punishment, authorities said in a statement.
The girl, Melody Zheng, was found unconscious and unresponsive on March 13, 2016, when police officers arrived at the family’s apartment in the Sunset Park neighborhood. The police said her 30-year-old father, whose name was not released, was trying to revive her when authorities arrived.
Officials said they started looking into whether the toddler had been abused after finding bruises on her older brother’s neck.
A Sunset Park woman has been convicted of manslaughter for the 2016 drowning death of her 2-year-old daughter, Melody Zheng. She was also convicted of attempted assault for holding her four-year-old son’s head under water a day earlier.
Learn more->> https://t.co/l62bIVViHU
— Eric Gonzalez (@BrooklynDA) June 4, 2019
Epoch Times reporter GQ Pan, Lorenz Duchamps, and The Associated Press contributed to this article.