JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – An Atlantic Beach mother faces a felony charge after her 5-year-old son ingested cocaine and a prescription pain killer, according to her arrest report.
Officers answering a call to the Baptist Health emergency room about 3:30 p.m. Friday learned the child tested positive for cocaine and oxycodone, the arrest report stated.
The child's mother, Kimberly Perez, left the hospital at one point, telling a Department of Children and Families investigator she needed to fetch something, according to the report. She never returned.
Police later located Perez, 33, and brought her in for questioning. She was arrested Monday and booked into the Duval County jail on a charge of child neglect. She was released Tuesday.
Atlantic Beach police said the boy remained hospitalized as of Monday.
According to a local pediatrician, the drugs could have an impact on the child's health depending on how much he ingested.
"If it was a small amount of drugs, then he will be impacted acutely, that acute impact will resolve and he’ll be fine. If it was a large amount of drugs, the child could be comatose and brain dead," said Dr. Jeffrey Goldhagen, chief of the Division of Community and Societal Pediatrics at UF Health Jacksonville.
Goldhagen added, "There are around 100,000 children a year who ingest over-the-counter and/or prescription drugs in the home and end up in an emergency room -- 12,000 or so children present to the emergency room from opioid ingestion.”
John Harrell, spokesperson for the Department of Children and Families, said there were no other children in Perez's care. He said the department will look into the living conditions inside the mother's home, as well as how the child got access to the drugs.
"We are very disturbed by these allegations. No child should ever be exposed to these substances. Parents need to understand that it is their first responsibility to protect their children," he said.
When News4Jax went to Perez's home for comment Tuesday, the people inside quickly exited out a side door and then drove off.
"I didn't think there was anything like that going on in this neighborhood," said Rich Carlon, who lives nearby. "I'm suprised."
Neighbor Nevin Kemmerer said he hopes the child will make a full recovery.
"I hope the baby gets squared away," he said. "That's the most important thing right now."
Court records show Perez has been arrested on drug charges in the past, including possession and smuggling contraband into jail.