A Florida woman is facing child neglect charges and her newborn baby is in critical condition after she allegedly went on a 24-hour crack binge, gave birth to the boy and cut the child’s umbilical cord with her teeth.
Chrystal Hassell, 37, is on suicide watch in the Marion County Jail after being arrested Saturday on child neglect charges, the Ocala Star-Banner reported Tuesday. The newborn was on a ventilator and in critical condition at a Gainesville, Fla., hospital.
Hassell checked into the Vacation Host Inn in Ocala Friday night with her 11-month-old son and her boyfriend, Vincent Terry, whom Fox News reported was wanted on attempted murder and other charges in Colorado. Terry wasn’t in the hotel room at the time the baby was born.
Terry told the Star-Banner that he was unaware Hassell was smoking crack in the room. He also said he had no knowledge that he was wanted in Colorado.
“I knew she had a history of doing drugs, but not that she was doing drugs. She just found out she was pregnant,” he told the paper.
Terry said he and the 11-month-old child were out on an errand and that Hassell called him after she gave birth. He said he got pulled over for speeding on his way back to the motel and that his girlfriend didn’t call 911 until she learned of his delay.
A spokesman for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office said that’s an inadequate excuse for Hasell not to call 911 sooner.
"She should have called 911 earlier -- she should have reached out to medical professionals, she didn't do that, and that's why she's in jail," Judge Cochran told the Tampa Bay Fox affiliate News 13.
A report from the sheriff’s office said Hassell cut the newborn’s umbilical cord with her teeth after delivering the child in the motel room’s bathtub. She allegedly went into labor following a 24-hour crack binge. She said she didn’t’ realize she was pregnant until she felt the baby kick in early March.
"At one point, according to her telling investigators, the baby stopped breathing," Cochran said.
Hassell is being held on $5,000 bond and her 11-month-old son is in foster care.
Terry told the Star-Banner that he would not split from Hassell despite the couple’s legal problems and the allegations against her.
“Of course we’re going to stay together. My kids are here. She’s not a bad person. She just got a problem and, together, we’ll fight it,” he said.