DEL CITY, Okla. - Two women were arrested this week on child neglect charges in connection to the death of a 6-year-old girl in their care, who died from asthma complications late last year.
Meta Cruikshank Hudspeth, 60, and Vanuda Lee Holloman, 82, both of the 3900 block of SE 14th Street, were arrested by Del City Police Wednesday on one count of child neglect and booked into the Oklahoma County jail.
"If her caregivers would have intervened and provided medical attention, then we very well wouldn't be here right now," said Del City Police Capt. Bradley Rule. "(Holloman and Hudspeth) were both, actually, former CNAs – former certified nursing assistants."
The girl - identified only as A.C. in court documents - died December 9 at OU Children's Hospital from asthma complications.
On December 7, the girl was sent to the nurse's office at Del City Elementary School because she was having trouble breathing, according to an arrest warrant. The nurse contacted Hudspeth, the girl's aunt, and Holloman, the girl's great-grandmother, to pick the girl up. Hudspeth, who is the girl's primary guardian in school records, didn't answer. Holloman, who was also listed as a guardian, said she couldn't pick the girl up because she didn't have a car.
The nurse told investigators she told Holloman that the child needed to go home and be seen by a doctor that day. Holloman reportedly declined the school's offer to call an ambulance, and after multiple attempts to have the girl picked up, the school principal and another administrator took her home.
Later that evening, shortly after 10:30 p.m., paramedics were called to the home because the 6-year-old was having an asthma attack. Paramedics found the girl unresponsive on the floor and started chest compressions and rushed her to OU Children's Hospital. However, the girl was pronounced dead two days later. The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office later determined the girl had "textbook asthma" and listed her cause of death as complications from asthma.
"We are deeply saddened by the loss of our student," Mid-Del Community Relations Director Stacey Boyer in an emailed statement to News 4 when asked about school practices and protocol for calling an ambulance for an ill student. "As situations warrant, we take time to look at our practices to determine if changes need to be made."
Multiple neighbors News 4 spoke with Wednesday and Thursday, but declined to speak on camera, called the girl's death tragic and said she was a twin that lived in the home with her siblings.
Three children, who were also in the home at the time at the time of the girl's collapse, were interviewed by investigators. They said when they came home from school, A.C. was in bed, appeared ill and was complaining of a headache, according to court documents. The children told investigators their sister had laid in Holloman's lap for some time that evening, but was placed on the floor so Holloman could leave the room, but when she came back, Holloman noticed she had urinated herself and wasn't breathing.
While at the hospital, doctors discovered on an X-ray that the girl had a "healing fracture" on her right arm and were unsure if it had been treated, as there were no medical records for the injury. In the interview with the three children, one said that their sister was doing back-flips in the house several months before and broke her arm, was in pain, and was "crying for three days because of the pain," but that Holloman and Hudspeth didn't have transportation, didn't deem the injury serious, and never sought medical treatment, filings said.
Court papers said the girl and her siblings have been under Hudspeth's care since October 2014. Since the girl's death, the other children have been permanently placed elsewhere by Oklahoma Department of Human Service, police said. According to court filings, investigators found no DHS records showing the girl suffered from asthma or broke her arm. However, school medical records show Hudspeth indicated A.C. did suffer from the chronic lung disease, had been seen by the nurse in the past and checked out of school by Hudspeth.
"During the investigation it was learned that the grandmother and the aunt stated that they didn’t seek medical attention because they didn’t have the money, nor did they have insurance to have the child treated," Rule said. "It was a tragedy that shouldn’t have happened."
Hudspeth's bond was set at $20,000; Holloman's set at $2,000. Both have not been formally charged in the case.