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Comatose infant dies hours after judge issues order.

Byline: Lisa D. Welsh

WORCESTER - A baby girl critically injured after her father allegedly rolled over on her as the two slept in the same bed has died just hours after a judge authorized removing the infant from life support at UMass Memorial Medical Center - University Campus.

Worcester Police Detective Capt. Edward J. McGinn Jr. said the 2-month-old baby died late Monday night.

Monday afternoon, a Worcester Juvenile Court judge had authorized removing her from artificial breathing apparatus, and also issued a "do not resuscitate" order.

A state Department of Social Services spokeswoman had said earlier that the baby, Avianna, daughter of David Letourneau and Sarah Elliot of 208 Pilgrim Ave., was in an "irreversible coma from which officials involved said she will not recover."

Capt. McGinn said yesterday that the state medical examiner's office in Boston is to perform an autopsy today. He said city police continue to investigate the baby's death and stressed that the case remains open.

The Worcester police special crimes unit believes the injuries, which occurred June 10, were caused by accident, but continues to look into whether neglect was a factor. Officials said there was no indication that drugs or alcohol were involved.

Neighbors in the Pilgrim Avenue neighborhood said Mr. Letourneau and Ms. Elliot appeared to take care of their children, and that the couple seemed to keep to themselves.

DSS spokeswoman Alison R. Goodwin said yesterday that the parents were with Avianna when she died. She noted that the couple's other child, a boy about 2 years old, has been taken into DSS custody.

Ms. Goodwin had characterized the Worcester episode as "an incident of co-sleeping," or bed-sharing between adults and children, which occurred on a particularly hot and humid day.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has noted reports of infants being suffocated by adults lying over them. At least one study, according to an academy spokesman, shows that bed-sharing with multiple family members in an adult bed can be hazardous for an infant.

Contact Lisa D. Welsh at
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Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Jul 2, 2008
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