Westmoreland County father charged in death of 1-month-old who suffocated while sleeping on him

VANDERGRIFT, Pa. – A father faces criminal charges after his infant son suffocated and died while the two slept.

Owen Copney, 26, of Vandergrift, is charged with involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

In September of 2018, police say Copney fell asleep with the 1-month-old lying on his chest and woke up to find the boy, named Isaiah facedown in his armpit. Copney told investigators his son wasn’t breathing and was covered in sweat, according to a criminal complaint obtained by NBC News.

The baby was pronounced dead two days later at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

Westmoreland District Attorney John Peck said the death was not an accident since Copney was told multiple times not to fall asleep with the baby, according to the Times-Review.

“An accident means that you have no control over the result. In other words, it just happened as a result of something that’s out of your control,” Peck said Thursday. “In this case, he did have control over the situation. He could have put the child back in a crib or a bassinet. It was reckless not to do that.”

According to the criminal complaint, Isaiah’s mother told investigators she had talked to Copney numerous times about not falling asleep with the infant.

The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against parents sharing beds with children under 1 year of age, and said in a 2016 report that approximately 3500 infants die annually from sleep-related causes.

Hospital guidelines recommend that babies sleep in their own beds on flat, firm surfaces.

Copney, who awaits his preliminary hearing, was out of jail on $25,000 bond Thursday, according to the paper.

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