Arrest affidavit says mom was drinking vodka
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.