KEY POINTS

  • Shelbi Westlake was found dead on July 25
  • She reportedly died of an accidental overdose
  • Quraan Laboy, the toddler's father, plans to sue

A 15-month-old baby was left alone with her mother's corpse at a homeless shelter in New York City for days after the woman died of accidental overdose, according to a petition filed in court. 

The infant, identified as Lyric Laboy, was found huddled under a bed near the body of her mom, Shelbi Westlake, 26, at an apartment-like unit of East River Family Center in Manhattan on July 25.

The workers at the facility found the child dehydrated and covered in feces five days after Westlake died, Lyric's father claims in the petition,  New York Post reported.

The father, Quraan Laboy, 31, claimed that no one checked on the mother and daughter until a fellow resident complained about a “foul odor” coming from her unit. Quraan is planning to sue the City of New York and the Department of Homeless Services for $5 million in damages.

While officials denied that the child was left alone for five days, the exact amount of time the baby spent beside the mother’s corpse remains to be ascertained. Officials say the case is under investigation.

The girl has lost seven pounds and has developed a habit of slapping her father when he sleeps to check if he is alive, Quraan’s lawyers said in court.

Quraan said the child refuses to leave his side after the incident. “I don’t know how long she will suffer from this. She has a lot of separation anxiety,” he added.

“Allowing an infant to remain with her dead mother for five days unnoticed not only highlights the indifference and lack of humanity shown to those most in need but exhibits complete malfeasance by the City of New York and Department of Homeless Services," Quraan's attorney said,  News.com.au reported.

Meanwhile, officials said the shelter has now made it mandatory to have same-night wellness checks for any resident who has not signed the nightly roster.

caution-3402597_1920 Representation. A police line. Photo: Pixabay