A Florida woman is blaming the Alachua County Jail for her newborn daughter’s death after she give birth in the jail on Aug. 9. The infant was transferred to the hospital where she died hours later.
“I basically held my baby all night, until she died, until she turned blue,” 25-year-old Erica Thompson told CBS News 4.
Thompson was arrested on Aug. 9 on two active warrant charges of felony violation of probation and failure to appear on a traffic charge. She was placed in the Alachua County Jail, where she told a nurse she was having contractions although she was just six months pregnant.
Thompson says a nurse told her she couldn’t be in labor because she had not yet dilated when she was checked at the hospital the day before.
Thompson, a mother of two older children, knew the baby was coming and said jail staff continued to ignore her screams. “I’m steady like, I’m going to have my baby. I’m screaming. I’m going to have my baby, please get me out of here. I feel like I’m going to have my baby. When I said that, I felt like all bets where off, everybody needs to be coming in here trying to check on me and see what’s going on. I’ve had kids before, so I know exactly how it feels. I’m about to have my baby, I’m not just talking,” she said.
Alachua County Sheriff’s Department Lt. Kaley Behl said when staff realized Thompson really was giving birth, EMS was called, but by the time they got there the baby had already been born and the umbilical cord had been cut. Thompson said that other than the nurse, there was no medical help.
Both mother and baby Ava were transferred to UF Health Shands Hospital, where Thompson says doctors told her the baby was too small and likely wouldn’t survive. She said doctors said they couldn’t do anything for the infant and gave her to Thompson.
“They didn’t try to put her in an incubator or save her or anything. As soon as I got there they had her in a crib and said my baby wasn’t going to survive,” Thompson wrote on Facebook. “My baby is in my arms still moving, heart pumping — Why aren’t you all trying to save her? She died hours later. My baby could have been saved.”
Behl said an investigation into the incident is underway.
“Just like any inmate coming into the jail, they get medically screened before they are even taken in. She was taken and housed in the female infirmary and put on 15-minute checks,” Behl told the Gainesville Times. “She ended up going into active labor and they called EMS. She had the baby before EMS got on scene. They assisted her in delivering the baby and sent her and the baby out to the hospital.”
The hospital said in a statement to that it does not comment on patients.
Thompson, the baby’s father, and protesters gathered outside of the jail last week, demanding justice, and claiming prison staff violated a state act enacted last year that requires inmates in labor are immediately taken to a medical facility and given medical care.
“Alachua County Jail is responsible for all of my pain and suffering physically and mentally and they’re responsible for the death of my daughter,” Thompson wrote on Facebook.
A GoFundMe page for Thompson has raised nearly $4,000 and is intended to cover food, transportation and postpartum care while Thompson grieves. The family plans to seek legal action.