Wearing matching pink t-shirts in honor of their grandchild, the Vermont family detailed the events surrounding 6-month-old Harper Rose Briar’s death in January.
“My son called me hysterical saying Harper wasn’t breathing,” Larry Briar, the grandfather, told WCNC in an interview published on Aug. 16. “I could already tell in his voice that it wasn’t good, and he said he lost her,” added Jennifer Briar, the grandmother.
You think you know what life is until you lose the one reason to keep living. The world is cruel, people aren’t always who you think they are. People change when tragedy makes them. I could never be who I was. I’ll always be Harper’s mom, but I’m different #JusticeForHarperRose pic.twitter.com/Egbo6hEShE
— мαяιѕѕα Briar (@mbriar97) April 16, 2019
Harper Rose was under the care of 54-year-old Stacey Vaillancourt at a Vermont home daycare center when she found unresponsive and not breathing. She was taken to a hospital where she was declared dead.
Harper Rose had turned six months the day she died on Jan. 24, her family wrote on GoFundMe. It was only her third day at the facility.
Following an autopsy, it was determined that the “level of diphenhydramine in Harper’s blood at the time of death represents more than one therapeutic dose,” reported the police.
Diphenhydramine is found in Benadryl and other allergen medication; the autopsy report said diphenhydramine is not to be given to infants.
The report also said that because medication was found in Harper’s stomach, it had only been “a couple of hours” before they were administered, according to the Rutland Herald.
“It doesn’t make sense,” Jennifer Briar told WCNC. “This was senseless. This was laziness. This was something that could have been prevented.”
Vaillancourt told police she checked on the children periodically as they napped and eventually found that Harper was not breathing, reported the VTDigger, after which she performed CPR on the infant then called police.
Vaillancourt did not say that she gave Harper medication, however, the state alleges she did.
“The defendant made no mention of administering any substance to Harper which contained Diphenhydramine,” the affidavit obtained by VT Digger said. “The defendant made no mention of seeking consultation from a physician regarding the administration of a substance, which contained diphenhydramine.”
A Not-Guilty Plea and Release
Vaillancourt was charged with manslaughter and child cruelty charges, according to the Vermont State Police. She pleaded not guilty to those charges and was released on a $25,000 bond.
Vaillancourt was also ordered not to approach children under five.
If found guilty, the Herald reported that she faces up to 15 years in jail.
Vaillancourt’s lawyer said she closed down her state-certified daycare business after Harper Rose’s death, reported People Magazine. According to VTDigger, her lawyer said “she ran the daycare for the last 25 years.”
Benadryl and antihistamines, such as diphenhydramine, have long been linked to deaths in infants.