Police charge four in Pulaski meth case after child is burned by drain cleaner

bestep@herald-leader.comAugust 27, 2013 

Police have charged four Pulaski County residents with endangering a child who tasted drain cleaner that allegedly was used in making methamphetamine.

The 20-month-old boy, who suffered serious burns on his mouth, face and chest, has been released from a hospital and is doing better, said Lt. Detective Brett Whitaker with the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office.

Police arrested the child's parents, Curtis Anderson and Brittany Helton, on Tuesday, Whitaker said.

Their son has been placed with a relative, Whitaker said.

The case has similarities to one that happened in neighboring Wayne County in May 2009, when a 20-month-old boy died after drinking the same type of drain cleaner at a small mobile home where people had allegedly made meth.

The sheriff's office started investigating the case in Pulaski County after the child's father, Curtis Anderson, 23, brought the boy to the emergency room at Lake Cumberland Regional Hospital early Aug. 21.

The investigation showed that the boy's mother, Helton, who is 24, had taken him to the home of a neighbor, Brian Herrin, late on Aug. 20.

A cup that contained Liquid Fire was sitting on a table at Herrin's house, police said.

Liquid Fire is a powerful drain cleaner that contains sulfuric acid. It is one of the ingredients that meth makers use to convert the drug in some cold and allergy medicines into meth.

The child picked up the cup at Herrin's house and started to take a drink, but he dropped the cup when the acid burned his lips and mouth, Whitaker said.

The acid spilled onto his chest and legs, causing burns. Initially, there were fears that the child's injuries were life-threatening, and he was flown to University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital.

"This could have been a fatal event," according to doctors, Whitaker said.

However, doctors found that the boy, whose name was not released, had not swallowed the acid.

Detectives searched Herrin's home and found items used in making meth, including acid, batteries, tubing and acetone, according to the news release.

Herrin and a friend, Krystal Hampton, fled, and police have not been able to find them.

Police charged the boy's parents, Anderson and Helton, as well as Herrin, 36, and Hampton, 26, with controlled-substance endangerment of a child, a felony.

Herrin also is charged with making meth.

Herrin has faced a number of criminal charges in Pulaski County, including assault, wanton endangerment, carrying a concealed deadly weapon and flagrant nonsupport.

Police found a hypodermic needle in his pocket during a traffic stop in February 2012, according to the citation.

A Pulaski County constable who arrested Helton in March on suspicion of driving while impaired said she told him she had taken two hydrocodone pills. Helton told the constable she took pills to cope with the death of a son, according to a report with the citation.

The sheriff's office confirmed that Helton's 3-year-old son, Shannon Norris, was killed in May 2012.

Helton was trying to park at an apartment building when her car lurched forward, pinning the boy against a wall.

No charges were filed in the case, said Detective Shannon Smith, a spokesman for the Somerset Police Department.

In 2009, the gruesome death of toddler Kayden Daniels in Wayne County raised awareness about the toll of meth on Kentucky children.

The boy was staying with his 14-year-old mother at a small trailer that several adults allegedly used to make meth.

The boy's parents, Bryan Daniels and Alisha Branham, had taken him away from the trailer earlier in the day while others were making meth there, and Branham said in court that she tried to clean the trailer before bringing Kayden home so there wouldn't be anything to hurt him.

However, there was Liquid Fire in a cup sitting on a small table in the bedroom Kayden shared with his parents.

As his mother dressed for bed and his father went to the kitchen to get Kayden some juice, the boy grabbed the cup of acid and took a drink, according to court testimony.

He died an hour later from severe internal injuries.

Police charged Bryan Daniels with murder and other crimes, but a jury acquitted him earlier this year.

Bill Estep: (606) 678-4655. Twitter: @billestep1.

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