Clarke Jacob Aaronson died Jan. 6, 2018, after sharing a bed with his mother.
WELLINGTON — More than a year after being awakened by her husband’s screams that their baby wasn’t breathing, a Wellington mother has been arrested on a negligent manslaughter charge in her newborn’s co-sleeping death.
Genna Aaronson, 33, was booked Wednesday morning into the Palm Beach County Jail on a charge tied to her son Clarke Jacob Aaronson’s Jan. 6, 2018, death, sheriff’s authorities said. She is scheduled to appear before a judge at a bail hearing Thursday morning.
Aaronson told Florida Department of Children and Families investigators that she fed her newborn at about 11 p.m. Jan. 5, 2018, laid him on his back, covered him with a blanket and fell asleep next to him in her bed.
She woke up early the next morning to her husband screaming that Clarke wasn’t breathing.
The parents performed CPR until rescue crews took him to Palms West Hospital in Loxahatchee, where he was pronounced dead at 6:05 a.m. The county Medical Examiner’s Office determined Clarke died of “positional asphyxia.” In other words, he suffocated.
State records indicate Clarke had been hospitalized a few days prior to his death because he had fallen out of the bed in which he was sleeping with his father. The details of that incident were not immediately available, and it was unclear how seriously the baby was injured.
Hospital staff said they told the parents not to sleep with the baby. They performed a drug test on Clarke’s father, Peter Aaronson, who tested positive for marijuana, state records show. Genna Aaronson refused to take a drug test.
According to state records, authorities determined that the parents were responsible for the baby’s death, writing that “at one month, Clarke didn’t possess the ability to reposition himself should his breathing become impaired and was unable to make safe decisions for himself.
“Yet despite this, his parents continued to allow him to co-sleep with them,” the report states. “Both parents were responsible for allowing him to sleep in an unsafe situation which ultimately caused his death.”
Clarke had an older brother, who was 5 at the time of the baby’s death, state records show.
A man who identified himself as Genna Aaronson’s husband hung up on a Post reporter Wednesday afternoon.
Since Clarke’s death, at least 11 other infants have died in Palm Beach County after sleeping in an unsafe environment, state records show.
State child-welfare workers say the safest way for babies to sleep is alone in a crib on their backs. In most of the 17 sleep-related deaths in Palm Beach County reported to the state since 2017, the babies — all were younger than 6 months — were either co-sleeping or in a sleeping environment with blankets.
The Department of Children and Families’ website details safe sleep practices and links to local resources for caregivers throughout Florida.
Aaronson’s arrest is the first in recent memory of a Palm Beach County parent facing charges in their child’s sleep-related death. A Winter Haven mother was arrested in 2016 after her second newborn died due to unsafe sleeping conditions. Erin Piche-Pitts was sentenced to four years in prison and six years probation in her son’s death, media outlets report.