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Mother arrested after child swallowed pill, lost consciousness

Whitney Tolerico, of St. Augustine, charged with child neglect

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – A St. Augustine woman was arrested after a child swallowed a pill that was left on a coffee table and later became unconscious, according to a report from the St. Johns County Sheriff's Office.

Whitney Tolerico has been charged with child neglect and was released from jail on $10,000 bond. She said she turned herself in after learning there was a warrant for her arrest.

The Sheriff's Office said the pill the child ingested was Suboxone, an opioid that's used to treat addiction to narcotics.

According to the report, first responders were sent to the St. Augustine home on Aug. 27. The report said Tolerico was cleaning out her purse when she noticed a pill inside that she placed on a table.

News4Jax visited Tolerico's ​​listed address, where she answered the door Wednesday.

“My son got it by accident. I took him out of my sight for two seconds to answer a text message and that’s how quick he got it,”​ Tolerico said.​

According to investigators, the child lost consciousness after 25 minutes. They said Tolerico first called a friend for medical help. Investigators said she wanted her friend to render aid but was finally convinced to call 911 an hour after her child ingested the pill.

Tolerico said it didn’t happen that way.

"I did not call a friend first. I called 911 immediately," she said.

Tolerico said she didn’t have a prescription for the drug. She told News4Jax she's a recovering addict.

"I've been clean for six months now," she said. "It's not that long, but I've been doing my very best."

Tolerico says she was shocked when she learned charges were going to be filed against her.

"This was an accident, and I've done everything I was supposed to do in order to be cleared of everything," Tolerico said.

When News4Jax spoke to Tolerico, she was holding the child who got sick, and he appeared to be doing OK.

According to the report, deputies found drug paraphernalia in the home. Tolerico said it belonged to her boyfriend.


About the Author:

Erik Avanier

Award-winning broadcast and multimedia journalist with 20 years experience.