Ar­rest af­fi­davit says mom was drink­ing vodka

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Jesse Paul

As the tem­per­a­ture hov­ered just above zero Satur­day morn­ing, a group of po­lice of­fi­cers watched a gas sta­tion’s sur­veil­lance video record­ings in hopes of find­ing a 2year-old boy left overnight by his mother in a snow-cov­ered park­ing lot in Thorn­ton.

It wasn’t clear where 26-yearold Ni­cole Alexan­dria Car­mon’s son was, ac­cord­ing to an ar­rest af­fi­davit, and she told in­ves­ti­ga­tors she had been in a car crash the night be­fore and headed off with­out him amid a night of heavy drink­ing. Car­mon said she had been at the Conoco and had pos­si­bly parked her Ford Fu­sion sedan near a Chi­nese restau­rant.

The af­fi­davit re­leased Mon­day pro­vides de­tails on how of­fi­cers found the se­verely hy­pother­mic and frost­bit­ten boy thanks to a tip, good for­tune and what au­thor­i­ties called “metic­u­lous” po­lice work.

“We didn’t know how long that child had been left in the ve­hi­cle alone,” Of­fi­cer Matt Barnes, a Thorn­ton po­lice spokesman, said Mon­day. “There were sub­zero tem­per­a­tures overnight. We were hop­ing we would have a good con­clu­sion. That’s thank­fully the case.”

Car­mon is be­ing held at the Adams County Jail in lieu of $50,000 bail on sus­pi­cion of crim­i­nally neg­li­gent child abuse re­sult­ing in se­ri­ous bod­ily in­jury. Barnes de­clined to talk about the con­di­tion of Car­mon’s son, cit­ing pri­vacy laws. He said it’s nor­mal for the De­part­ment of Hu­man Ser­vices to step in dur­ing such cases, but that he couldn’t say for sure if that had hap­pened yet.

Car­mon has an ar­rest record in Colorado dat­ing to 2009 that in­cludes charges of driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence and ob­struc­tion of a po­lice of­fi­cer. In Oc­to­ber, a Thorn­ton of­fi­cer wrote in a po­lice re­port that he found her sit­ting in the driver’s seat of ap­par­ently the same Ford sedan and smelling strongly of al­co­hol.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors say dur­ing that en­counter with po­lice, the ve­hi­cle’s front pas­sen­ger tire was miss­ing and the Ford was rid­ing di­rectly on its rim. Car­mon al­legedly be­gan to scream loudly and curse at an of­fi­cer while her blood-al­co­hol con­tent was be­ing tested.

Colorado Bureau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion records show that she was also sus­pected of driv­ing un­der the in­flu­ence in 2009 and 2013 in the Den­ver area.

The ar­rest af­fi­davit says Car­mon, of West­min­ster, told of­fi­cers she had taken six shots of vodka Fri­day night as an arc­tic storm moved into the re­gion.

At about 10:30 a.m. Satur­day, Car­mon’s babysit­ter called po­lice, say­ing that Car­mon had come to her home look­ing for the boy.

Po­lice then con­tacted Car­mon, who told of­fi­cers she had been in­volved in a crash the night be­fore and left her son alone in the car, au­thor­i­ties said. Car­mon al­legedly said she had for­got­ten where her ve­hi­cle was parked, the de­tails of the wreck and how she got home, but that she be­lieved her tod­dler was still in the ve­hi­cle.

“It was a metic­u­lous search,” Barnes said. “We knew that we pos­si­bly had a child pos­si­bly aban­doned in a ve­hi­cle in­side of our ju­ris­dic­tion. We mo­bi­lized as many units as pos­si­ble to help in the search, know­ing that time was prob­a­bly a fac­tor here.”

Au­thor­i­ties were able to trace Car­mon’s steps to a Conoco store on the 600 block of East 120th Av­enue, where a man­ager showed po­lice sur­veil­lance video. The af­fi­davit says a record­ing showed Car­mon walk­ing into the store at about 9:30 p.m. on Fri­day and ap­pear­ing bedrag­gled.

Of­fi­cers watched and lis­tened as the shop’s cam­era cap­tured an ap­par­ently in­tox­i­cated Car­mon walk­ing into the Conoco, the af­fi­davit says, be­fore she pointed to the east and made com­ments that sounded like the word “Tar­get.”

“While at the store, the video showed Ni­cole ap­peared up­set and seemed to be slightly cry­ing or whim­per­ing,” the af­fi­davit says. “Her bal­ance was poor, and she had the ap­pear­ance of be­ing un­der the in­flu­ence of a drug or al­co­hol or both.”

Just be­fore 9:45 p.m., the sur­veil­lance cam­eras picked up Car­mon leav­ing the store by her­self on foot and head­ing west.

At about noon Satur­day, the Thorn­ton po­lice of­fi­cers at the Conoco rushed about a thou­sand feet away to a park­ing lot shared by a Tar­get store and a Panda Ex­press, where they found Car­mon’s Ford Fu­sion, cov­ered with about 6 inches of snow.

“The car was blan­keted with snow,” Barnes said. “There was no way of see­ing what was in­side.”

In­side, of­fi­cers found the tod­dler, who was half buck­led into a car seat and “ap­peared to be in dis­tress.” He was taken by am­bu­lance to a hos­pi­tal. The ve­hi­cle showed no sign of hav­ing been in­volved in a crash, Barnes said.

While au­thor­i­ties say the amount of time Car­mon’s tod­dler was in the ve­hi­cle has yet to be de­ter­mined, the ar­rest af­fi­davit sug­gests it was at least 14 hours. Ac­cord­ing to the af­fi­davit, the Na­tional Weather Ser­vice recorded the re­gional tem­per­a­ture as drop­ping to as low as mi­nus-8 de­grees Fri­day night.

Dr. Anne Wag­ner, med­i­cal direc­tor of the Univer­sity of Colorado Hos­pi­tal’s burn cen­ter and an ex­pert on frost­bite, said se­vere hy­pother­mia is when some­one’s body tem­per­a­ture falls to be­tween 68 and 82 de­grees Fahren­heit, far be­low the nor­mal 98.6 de­grees. In such cases, peo­ple are at high risk of ex­treme de­hy­dra­tion or car­diac ar­rest.

“That’s kind of the turn­ing point where it’s dan­ger­ous enough that the child can go into car­diac ar­rest,” said Wag­ner, who has no con­nec­tion to the Car­mon case. “Younger chil­dren, espe­cially at that age, phys­i­o­log­i­cally they are a lot dif­fer­ent than an adult. They can have more prob­lems in the cold tem­per­a­tures. They don’t have as good of cop­ing mech­a­nisms.”

Thorn­ton po­lice say they of­ten get calls of chil­dren left alone in cars but usu­ally for only a lim­ited amount of time as their par­ents go shop­ping or head to a bar. Of­fi­cials say they couldn’t re­mem­ber an­other sit­u­a­tion in which a child had been left in a ve­hi­cle for so long.

Jail records did not in­di­cate whether Car­mon has hired a lawyer. She is next sched­uled to ap­pear in court Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon.

“This is still an open and ac­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion for us,” Barnes said.

Ni­cole Alexan­dria Car­mon, 26, left her 2-yearold son in her car overnight in a snow­storm.

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