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Sleeping father accidentally kills toddler

POSTED November 9, 2010 11:16 p.m.

A young Turlock girl lost her life Friday due to suffocation while sleeping with her father on a couch.

The Turlock Police Department has investigated the death and by all indications it appears to be a tragic accident, said Sgt. Nino Amirfar.

“The family is very devastated,” he said.

Emergency dispatch received a call from the family around 1 a.m. Friday, stating that the 3-year-old girl was not breathing. Fire and medical personnel were en route to the home in the 800 block of Vermont Avenue when Turlock Police Officer Michael Stapler arrived and found the child unresponsive. He immediately began CPR and the girl was transported to a local hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Amirfar said the child had fallen asleep with her father on the couch and at some point the father rolled on top of her.

The mother told investigators she came into the room and pulled the girl out.

There were no signs that alcohol or drugs were a factor in the death, Amirfar said.

The American Academy of Pediatrics strongly discourages bed sharing with young children. In 2008, in the wake of several infant deaths, Stanislaus County launched a campaign encouraging parents to abandon the practice of sleeping with their children.

Amirfar said it is rarer to see toddlers and older children lose their lives in this manner, but that it is something parents should be aware of and take precautions against.

“Children are very susceptible to suffocation,” Amirfar said. “It’s very simple for them in a deep sleep to get wedged into a soft cushion or some other material and not be able to breathe. Sleeping together can be dangerous for a child.”

The obituary notice for the child has not been released.

To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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