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Cambria Co. man accused of burning daughter in hot water

Reported By: Maria Miller
Written By: Marc Stempka

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- A Cambria County man has been arrested for allegedly burning his infant daughter in hot water because he was "angry and frustrated," police said.

Johnstown police arrested Earl Saunders, 23, of the Oakhurst Homes, on Wednesday for the incident that took place in February.

According to the criminal complaint, Saunders has been charged with endangering the welfare of child and aggravated assault for putting the girl in hot water from the waist down during a bath.

Police said the incident happened Feb. 9 in an apartment at the Oakhurst Homes. In the criminal complaint, Saunders said he felt the water prior to putting the girl inside and said that it wasn't hot, but after the girl was in the water, her skin began to peel.

Johnstown police Detective Julie Wagner said police were notified about the incident after the girl was taken to Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center.

"She had burns over 20 percent of her body and she did have at least two or three skin grafts already," Wagner said. "She'll have some more follow-up treatment and care."

The girl was taken to the hospital only after Saunders realized the girl's skin was peeling off, according to the criminal complaint. Investigators said Saunders tried rubbing Vaseline on the affected parts of her body, then took the girl to another apartment, to where her godmother lived.

After speaking with the godmother, police said, Saunders then sought medical treatment for the girl. Once at Conemaugh, the infant was transported to a burn center in Pittsburgh for the additional treatment.

"We're grateful that she is okay now and she will be okay now," Wagner said. "She does have a lot of treatment to go through to ensure her continued safety and well being, but she will be okay."

In the criminal complaint, a Conemaugh doctor "deemed [the girl's] condition as 'serious' and that her injuries are possibly a result of abuse." The doctor also "reported the incident as a 'near fatality' to the state child abuse registry."

Detectives conducted a follow-up interview with Saunders Wednesday. Police said he admitted to injuring the girl because he was angry and frustrated and "was aware that the temperature of the water was too hot when he put the infant in the tub."

Franklin Pediatrics Dr. Lawrence Rosenberg, who is not a part of the case, said as people go from babies to adults, the skin toughens, but younger people, especially babies, can burn very easily.

"At 140 degrees, this child will get a second- to third-degree burn within the matter of a few seconds," Rosenberg said. "When we take care of children, we realize that the water has to be cooler because the perception to the children and the permeation of the skin is much more rapidly, much faster."

Saunders was placed in the Cambria County Prison on $25,000. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for April 30.

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Edgar Snyder

Washington Times