OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — An attorney for the family of a foster child who died two years ago after allegedly ingesting methamphetamine has sued Alameda County, saying the girl should have been removed from a Stockton home after she swallowed the drug for the first time.
The suit filed in federal court in San Francisco alleges that defendants Alameda County and Triad Family Services placed 3-year-old Mariah and her 5-year-old brother, Jeremyah, in the care of Maria Moore in Stockton on Sept. 30, 2015. Four days later, Moore took Mariah to the hospital after the toddler was "acting strange," the East Bay Times reported Wednesday (http://bayareane.ws/2hMwikD ).
"That afternoon in a park, in Jeremyah's presence, Mariah's 'strange' behavior was to see monkeys and bunnies running around when none were there, to shake and sweat, and her heart was racing," said the lawsuit filed by attorney Darren Kessler, who is representing the boy and his guardian.
Staff at St. Joseph's Medical Center took a urine sample and diagnosed her with altered level of consciousness and amphetamine abuse. Police, hospital workers and the San Joaquin Human Services Agency notified Alameda County social workers and Triad, but the girl remained in the home, Kessler said in an interview.
He said that less than two weeks later, on Oct. 16, Mariah died in the arms of her brother after ingesting methamphetamine for a second time.
It is not clear how she came to ingest the drug. Kessler said there was a police investigation but he does not know what it concluded.
Kessler said Alameda county social workers missed obvious signs that the toddler was in danger.
"Alarmingly, San Joaquin County officials called authorities in Alameda County and left a message on four separate occasions but they did nothing, zero," he said.
Moore, the children's foster mother in Stockton, said the death was an accident.
"I didn't have anything to do with it," Moore told the newspaper. "I was cleared. I was not charged with anything." She declined to say anything more until she speaks to her attorney.
Messages left Wednesday with Triad and Alameda County Counsel by The Associated Press were not returned.
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