New Castle infant left alone; sitter hurt in car crash; alcohol suspected
January 5, 2017
A New Castle couple say they are reeling in the aftermath of a nightmare after discovering that a carefully picked baby sitter left their infant daughter home alone last week and then was gravely injured in a car crash that authorities suspect was alcohol-related.
The 23-year-old babysitter is recovering in a Denver hospital and undergoing multiple surgeries, while New Castle police said Wednesday they are considering charges.
After five years of trying to have a baby, John and Lindsay Krol had Olivia in May. They both took time off of work to stay at home with their newborn. As they started planning their return to work, they came up against Garfield County's child-care shortage.
"We realized quickly that child care was going to be a major problem for us, and we needed to find a solution. We had been on waiting lists for 10 months already," John wrote to the Post Independent.
At that point they started looking for baby sitters, working out their own work schedules so they would need someone for only two and a half days per week.
The Krols thought they did everything right. They reviewed numerous applications, checked references and hired a woman who grew up a couple blocks away and who was from a good family, John Krol said.
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The Krols installed cameras in the house to keep an eye on what was going on. They kept a logbook in Olivia's room so the sitter could enter when Olivia ate, when her diaper was changed, when she napped — a way for the parents to get a look at how their daughter's day had been.
Everything seemed to be going well, said John, until Dec. 30, about four months after the baby sitter started working for them.
A little before 2 p.m. Lindsay texted her husband at work. Via the home's cameras, she could see Olivia crying alone, and the baby sitter was nowhere to be seen. Something seemed to be very wrong, so John called the 23-year-old repeatedly, with no response.
He sped home from work, continually checking the cameras to see his 7-month-old daughter was still alone. John arrived at the house and found the baby alone.
Angry and confused, the parents tried to put the pieces together.
"We thought maybe someone had taken her, because we thought she would never leave Olivia alone," John said of the sitter, whom the Post Independent is not naming because she has not been charged with a crime.
They soon learned that the baby sitter had been in a car wreck on U.S. 6 just west of New Castle.
Colorado State Patrol reported that the woman went off the side of the road and overcorrected, sending her 2002 Subaru Outback rolling multiple times and ejecting her, despite her wearing a seat belt.
She was taken to a Denver hospital with serious injuries.
State Patrol public information officer Josh Lewis told the PI on Wednesday that alcohol is being considered as a contributing factor to the wreck.
Back at the Krols' home, John found six small, empty Fireball Whisky bottles in the baby sitter's jacket, he told the PI.
In an email Wednesday afternoon to John Krol, New Castle Officer Brian Dominguez said investigators have agreed to pursue charges in the case and begin an investigation.
But that investigation will have to wait because the baby sitter is still in intensive care in Denver, New Castle Sgt. Chuck Burrows told the PI.
"We're not going to fly an officer to Denver to sling paperwork at a girl in the ICU. We're wishing for her recovery above and beyond any potential charges that may come in the future," said the sergeant.
Burrows said that on the surface, it seems there could be some child abuse or neglect charges. "But we can't take things on face value," he said.
"There are serious questions as to why she ended up in a wreck on the highway when she should have been sitting with an infant," he said. "We can thank God the baby wasn't with her when the crash happened, though that doesn't relinquish her of her responsibility. She has some answering to do when she gets back here."
In the meantime, John Krol was incredulous to see the baby sitter post to Facebook thanks for support and love from the community following her wreck.
"I can't even begin to express how grateful I am for the outpour of love an support from everyone in our community and beyond during this insanely difficult time," she wrote in a status update that Krol provided the Post Independent. "I truly appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers, I do feel all the positivity even in a very trying situation, No updates other than continued recovery and a few more surgeries ahead. Thanks you thank you thank you to everyone that has sent out prayers and positivity."
Via Facebook Messenger, the woman declined the Post Independent's requests for comment on the wreck and circumstances of baby Olivia being left alone, citing her condition in the hospital and ongoing surgeries. She wrote that she was having someone else type for her due to her critical condition.
She also said that she wanted to speak with the Krols before commenting.
what neighbors saw
Neighbors later told the parents that they had seen the sitter leave the home alone more than once during the day, and at one point she'd driven the child in a vehicle without a car seat, John Krol said.
Additionally, John said the sitter had been cited for careless driving on Interstate 70 on Dec. 19, a day she was scheduled to work for the Krols. They're looking into whether this occurred while she was supposed to be watching Olivia.
Now the Krols are left taking turns off of work to watch Olivia, terrified of the thought of trusting someone to watch their infant.
"We thought we had done everything right as parents," said John. "We'll probably never trust anyone else again to care for her."
The Krols don't know how long Olivia was left alone. The sitter wrote in the logbook at 11:30 a.m., and she was in the wreck at about 1:30 p.m.
If not for the cameras, Oliva could have been alone for six hours that day, her father said.
Certainly, the baby sitter's life, too, has been changed by this serious wreck, he said. "We don't wish ill for her, but we do want her held accountable."
"I do want other parents to know, you can think you're doing everything right, but you have to make sure you know who's taking care of your child. This has turned a great year of our life and turned it into something terrible."