District Attorney Press Release






To read past CFRT reports click here, here, here, here, here and here.



Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore and County Executive Andrew Spano announced that Westchester County’s Child Fatality Review Team (CFRT) has completed its seventh independent Child Fatality Review Report.


The Team recently reviewed the death of a baby who was left unattended in a bath seat while in a bath tub with a small quantity of water.


The child’s death was determined to be the result of asphyxia due to drowning.   


Bath seats are designed for use by:


  • babies who are capable of sitting upright and

  • are intended to make it easier for caregivers to bathe a child but are not safety devices and

  • are never a substitute for close adult supervision. 


Parents should be aware that leaving a baby unsupervised in a bath seat can result in a child’s accidental submersion and drowning. 


Babies can drown in as little as one inch of water. 


In fact, U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”) has reports that between 1983 and 2005, baby bath seats contributed to the deaths of 123 children and 182 non-fatal injuries. www.cpsc.gov/volstd/bbybath/bbybath.html.


Based on that, the CFRT takes this opportunity to advise parents of the recommendations of the American Academy of Pediatrics concerning the proper use of bath seats that parents should:


  • never leave a baby alone in water, even for a second,    

  • never let an older child supervise a baby in the bathtub or in water,

  • stay within arms distance of a baby in a bathtub or near another water source,

  • stop the use of a bath seat as soon as a baby shows signs of being able to pull up to a standing position and

  • follow all manufacturer instructions concerning assembly and use of bath seats.


Only use a bath seat that meets current industry standards as set forth by the CPSC (www.cpsc.gov).


“One of the primary responsibilities for a parent is to maintain a safe and secure home environment for their children,” commented District Attorney Janet DiFiore. “Whether it is a nursing pillow, baby walker, sleeping arrangement or in this case a bath seat, parents must remain constantly vigilant when attending to young children. The slightest distraction or seemingly momentary interruption can easily lead to horrible consequences.”


County Executive Andy Spano added, “There is nothing more tragic than the avoidable death of a child. With the partnership that Westchester’s CFRT embodies, we hope to enlighten parents on the dangers that even one second of inattention can cause and through our outreach efforts, have them able to avoid a needless tragedy.”


Dr. Jennifer Canter, Medical Director of the Children’s Advocacy Center at the Westchester Institute for Human Development and Director for Child Protection at the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at the Westchester Medical Center said, “A young child should always be supervised around any type of water. Bath seats and related products can assist a caregiver in bathing a child, but are not a substitute for careful undivided attention. In an instant a child can drown, even in the smallest amount of water.”


For more information on water safety and children the CFRT urges parents and caregivers to review the American Academy of Pediatrics website at www.aap.org.


The Westchester County CFRT reviews the death of any child who was provided services by the Westchester County Department of Social Services and/or agencies under contract with Westchester County or whose death was the result of suspicious circumstances.


Westchester County was the fourth county in New York State to have an approved CFRT. 


Westchester’s Team is the first team in the State to successfully write its own state mandated child fatality reports.  Westchester County remains the only county in the State to examine child deaths beyond the scope of matters required by state law for the purpose of preparing independent reports that proactively address issues related to these child deaths. 


By law the CFRT includes representatives from the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office, the Westchester County Department of Social Services (Child Protective Services), the Westchester County Office of Medical Examiner, the Westchester County Attorney’s Office, the Westchester County Department of Health, the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, a forensic pediatrician, members of the police department(s) who handled the investigation of a specific case and emergency medical services. 


Our local CFRT also includes representatives of the Westchester County Mental Health Department and Victims Assistance Services.


New York State Social Services Law requires the death of a child to be reviewed with regard to the services provided by the Westchester County Department of Social Services and agencies under contract with Westchester County.  The Westchester County Child Fatality Review Team (“CFRT”) undertook and completed the required review with regard to an infant child who died in Westchester County


The Team’s findings are reflected in a Fatality Review Report prepared pursuant to New York State Social Services Law (“SSL”) §§ 20(5) and 422-b.  In recognition of the goal of preventing future child fatalities, the CFRT has pledged to review each child fatality and make all appropriate recommendations beyond that which is required by state statute. 


To read past CFRT reports click here, here, here, here, here and here.