ROCK HILL The baby girl who survived a harrowing jump with her mother from a second floor balcony to escape an apartment fire in July, died at her home Monday night.
Rock Hill Police and the York County coroner are investigating the death of 3-month-old JaLeyah White, who was found unresponsive in bed late Monday, officials say.
Her mother, Mandi Coley, came home from working the second shift at Walmart after working the day shift at the Bojangles restaurant and found JaLeyah in bed with the babys father, Coley said.
Samuel Lee White, 25, was sleeping at the time, according to a police report.
She was my everything, my daughter, said Coley, 20. I cant believe my baby is gone. She is gone.
Coley said she pounded on the door but could not get White to wake up to open the door, so she had to go in through the window. She went to give her daughter a kiss and found her not breathing.
She was just lying there, Coley said.
Coley started screaming and told police she was finally able to wake White. She then tried CPR on her daughter, according to the police report.
I used that thing, the bulb, that we use to clear her nose, Coley said, but it just didnt help.
She then called 911 and emergency responders arrived. An ambulance took the baby to the hospital, but she had already died.
The case has been designated a death investigation. No charges have been filed, said Mark Bollinger, spokesman for the Rock Hill Police Department.
An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday to try to determine a cause of death, York County Coroner Sabrina Gast said. All child deaths are investigated by police, as well as the York Countys Child Death Review Team, Gast said.
That team is made up of officials from the coroners office, law enforcement, forensics and social services agencies. Family members and others are interviewed to see what the circumstances were in the case, Gast said.
White told police that he had fed the baby and changed her diaper before both went to sleep in the bed around 7 p.m. Monday night, the report states.
Child safety advocates and health care professionals recommend that parents do not sleep with their infants in bed.
The American Society of Pediatrics...recommends a baby sleep alone, on the back, in a crib, said Bett Williams, spokeswoman for Childrens Trust of South Carolina, a child safety advocacy group.
It is a problem in South Carolina.
Just five weeks ago, the state Department of Health and Environmental Control urged parents to make sure infants sleep face-up after accidental child deaths by suffocation or strangulation rose to 41 in 2012 up from 30 in 2011.
White and Coley share an apartment at Oak Hollow Apartments on South York Avenue. The couple moved into a new apartment weeks after the apartment building they had been living in was destroyed by a July 2 fire.
Police helped several residents escape the early morning fire, but Coley and White had to jump from their second-floor balcony to safety.
White jumped first as the building burned, then caught Coley after she jumped. Coley, 7 months pregnant at the time, underwent medical testing afterward and learned that her unborn baby was fine.
Exactly two months later, on Sept. 2, JaLeyah was born.
The miracle of Coleys escaping the fire and giving birth to a healthy daughter is now overshadowed by an investigation into that babys tragic death.
White became distraught at the hospital after doctors told him and Coley that their daughter was dead, the report states.
Coleys friends and family want a thorough investigation into how JaLeyah died while sleeping in bed.
We are hurt, but really, we are angry, said Barry Johnson, a friend of Coleys family whom Coley described as a father figure.
Roy Ezell, Coleys brother, said the family is upset that the baby died in the care of her father.
We want to know what happened and how it happened, he said.
White could not be reached for comment after his release from the hospital Tuesday, but his mother said her son is grief-stricken.
It is terribly sad, Terry White said.
In an October interview, Coley couldnt seem to take her eyes off JaLeyah, describing her repeatedly as perfect.
JaLeyah had her picture taken with Santa Claus just days ago, but there will be no Christmas.
She was my life and now my baby girl is dead, Coley said. I cant even hardly say it. Shes gone.
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