MILWAUKEE -- 10-day-old Egypt Holloway died in a co-sleeping incident on Milwaukee's north side, in the 1100 block of N. 43rd St. The incident took place the day after Christmas, when the 10-day-old infant was sleeping in a queen size bed with three other children. Now, Egypt's family is mourning her death, and Egypt's grandmother is speaking out, to ensure other families don't have to endure the same tragedy.
Egypt Holloway was born not even two weeks ago, at a healthy six pounds, two ounces. According to a Medical Examiner's report, the infant was allowed to stay with her grandmother, Rose Alexander, for the night on the day after Christmas. The report says Alexander and her boyfriend, Darnell Williams, "went out" around 10:00 Christmas night. Alexander says her boyfriend had a show, and she went out with him. They left Egypt in the care of a 13-year-old aunt, along with a 12-year-old cousin and six-year-old sister. There was also a 49-year-old adult in the home. "We didn't leave a 13-year-old by herself in a house with a bunch of children," Alexander said.
The report says around 2:00 a.m., the 13-year-old aunt fed the baby a bottle, wrapped her in a fleece blanket, and put her to sleep on her back on Alexander's queen size mattress, with her head just below two adult size pillows. The report says the three children and 10-day-old Egypt all slept on Alexander's queen size mattress until Alexander got home around 4:00 a.m. Alexander and Williams removed the children from the bed when they got home. Williams says he didn't notice the infant at first, but then noticed that Egypt had her mouth open and was not breathing. Emergency services were contacted immediately. "First thing I did is, I just grabbed her and her neck went back, and I just started doing CPR," Alexander's boyfriend, Darnell Williams said.
The 13-year-old aunt says she fell asleep lying to the left of the infant, and Williams says he found the aunt laying to the right of the infant when they arrived home at 4:00 a.m. The report also says a large family gathering had taken place in the home for Christmas.
David Weier lives next door to the family, and says they're supporting four children. "I knew they had kids. They'd talk to the other kids, and our kids would hang out with their kids a little bit. I'm just shocked that happened so close to me. It's just unbelievable," Weier said.
This is the kind of situation City of Milwaukee leaders have been trying to stop, with recent campaigns warning against the dangers of co-sleeping. "I can't believe it happens as much as it happens. It's always on TV. I think people should know better," Weier said. Weier says he can't imagine what the family must be going through. "Just grief. I'd be shocked. I'd be beside myself. I have no idea," Weier said.
The City of Milwaukee just launched a provocative ad campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of co-sleeping. They advise parents to put their babies, especially those under three months of age, in a crib or bassinet alone, next to the parents' bed. "As they get a little bit older and they're able to move away from danger or turn their head, it gets a little bit safer, but it's especially hard for those newborns," Anna Benton with the Milwaukee Health Department said. The City of Milwaukee says there are 10 to 15 co-sleeping deaths per year in the city, and they'd like to see that number drop down to zero.
The Medical Examiner says there were no obvious signs of trauma in this case, and say an autopsy will be done to determine whether there were any other health issues involved.