By Lauren Estes
The Cullman Times
A 22-year-old Cullman father has been charged with negligence and abuse in the case of his 13-month-old son’s drowning.
B.J. Bryant, 22, was arrested for aggravated abuse and criminally negligent homicide on Tuesday, April 30, after an 11-month investigation by the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office in the death by drowning of his son, Chief Deputy Max Bartlett said.
“Based on the conditions of the scene and the home, we had reason to believe the child had been severely neglected,” Bartlett said. “After a long and lengthy investigation led by Justin Tyus, we were able to get the elements necessary to prosecute this case.”
Bartlett said on May 21, 2012, officers responded to a call in reference to a small child that was unresponsive after he had been in the bathtub. An officer responded and attempted to revive the child and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arrived at the scene shortly. The child was later transported to Cullman Regional Medical Center’s emergency room and then medflighted to Children’s Hospital where the child was put on life support and died a week later.
“We’ve worked hand in hand with the D.A’s office and Wilson Blaylock; he’s helped us come to a resolution in this case,” Bartlett said. “This will be a very sensitive case due to the circumstances, so we don’t want to go into too much depth on details. Justin has worked very hard on the case and had diligence in seeing it through. These are hard cases for the officers involved, especially emotionally. We are advocates of the victims, and in this case, we have a small child that can’t speak for himself.”
Cullman County Sheriff Mike Rainey, Bartlett and Tyus commended several groups that have been helpful throughout the investigation.
“The Juvenile Probation Office, DHR (Department of Human Resources), the staff at Child Haven and the District Attorney’s office have helped pave our investigation,” Tyus said. “It’s been a cumulative effort between everyone in Cullman County to make sure that this case is heard.”
Bryant is being held at the Cullman County Detention Center on a $36,000 cash bond. He has been charged with criminally negligent homicide, a class-A misdemeanor and aggravated child abuse, a class-B felony.
“There were multiple factors that contributed to drowning and death of this child,” Tyus said. “I wanted to speak for this child who can’t speak for himself. His story needs to be heard, that is the biggest thing.”
Bartlett stressed that practicing safety with young children is vital, especially around water.
“To all parents, especially young ones, we’ve had too many children die by drowning; it could be in bath tubs, swimming pools, whatever,” Bartlett said. “If they are a small child, it only takes a moment for tragedy to strike, this is not that type of circumstance, this is a criminal matter.”
Lauren Estes can be reached at email@example.com or at 256-734-2131, ext 270.