Meth chemical that killed toddler was in a coffee cup on a table

bestep@herald-leader.comJune 2, 2009 

MONTICELLO — A toddler who died after drinking a drain cleaner used in making methamphetamine swallowed the corrosive liquid from a coffee cup left sitting on a table at his teenage parents' trailer, authorities said Monday.

The parents rushed the 22-month-old boy, Kayden Bran ham, to the Wayne County hospital Saturday night, but he was pronounced dead about an hour after ingesting the cleaner, which contains sulfuric acid, authorities said.

"I don't think there's a word that describes how horrible a death that child experienced," state police Detective Doug Boyd said.

Boyd charged the boy's father, Bryan Daniels, 19, and his 14-year-old mother with murder and manufacturing methamphetamine. Police did not released the mother's name because of her age; family members identified her as Alisha Branham.

Police also charged four other people with making meth, contributing to the toddler's death.

Those four are Wesley T.J. Bell, 24, who has a lengthy record of arrests on drug, theft and other charges in Wayne County; James Hunt, 24; Alisha Dicken, 21; and Danny Anderson II, 26.

Officials said all six remained jailed Monday. Daniels declined a request for an interview at the Wayne County Detention Center.

It might be rare to have a child die from ingesting an ingredient used to make meth, but Kayden is not the first child to die from eating or being exposed to drugs.

In 1989, a 3-year-old Corbin boy overdosed and died after eating his grandmother's cocaine, and in 2006, police said a 5-month-old Frankfort girl died from being exposed to secondhand crack cocaine smoke.

In this case, Boyd said the caustic liquid the Wayne County toddler drank was thought to be a drain cleaner called Liquid Fire. People make meth, a highly addictive drug, by using various chemicals to distill the drug out of cold medicine.

"It's my belief the stuff was in the container because they were using it in cooking meth," Boyd said of the drain cleaner. "It was left out in the open for the child to get into."

Larry West, a deputy coroner involved in the investigation, said the boy drank the drain cleaner about 11 p.m. Saturday.

The mother didn't see him drink it, but she heard him gagging and knew immediately something was wrong, West said.

The child was wearing shorts and no shirt. The chemical caused burns around his mouth and on his chest and stomach when it spilled from his mouth, West said.

The boy's grandfather, Larry Branham, said he was at a house just across the narrow, hilly road from the trailer when his daughter and Branham drove over and rushed inside with Kayden to call 911.

"I said, 'Baby, I don't think there's time to call 911,' "Branham said. "I knew it was bad."

The three ran back to the car with the boy, and Daniels drove to the hospital at speeds approaching 90 mph, running red lights on the way, Branham said.

The boy was conscious and vomited on the way, West said.

Medical personnel worked to save the boy, inserting a tube to help him breathe, but the doctor said the toddler's airway was burned and his heart rate kept going down, West said.

He was pronounced dead at 11:57 p.m. Saturday. West talked to the boy's parents at the hospital soon after.

"The mother and father both were extremely distraught," he said.

Their son had bright blue eyes and curly blond hair.

"Just a beautiful child. It broke my heart," West said.

The death has saddened many people, but it also has caused anger. And it suggests that Wayne County has a serious meth problem, although that's not unique.

Dave Gilbert, director of the Lake Cumberland Area Drug Task Force, which covers Pulaski, McCreary and Wayne counties, said he had estimated that the task force would break up 10 meth labs in the area in 2009.

With the year less than half over, the number is already 26, Gilbert said, and many of those were in Wayne County.

"I see a big meth problem" in the county, he said. "I'm seeing an upsurge from last year."

Larry Branham said his grandson was a well-behaved boy who liked to play outside and splash in his small plastic pool, and loved animals.

"He's an angel," Branham said. "Always had a smile and always had kisses for you."

Branham said he hadn't been able to sleep or eat since Kayden died. "My heart's ripped out," he said.

Patsy Crabtree, a great-aunt of the toddler, said his death has caused hard feelings.

"The family is mad about it, the way they let the boy die," she said. "They could have took better care of him."

Lexington Herald-Leader is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service