A New Jersey woman, the 35-year-old Aliyah Smith, is faced with criminal child endangerment charges after leaving her two children unattended in the parking garage of the Wind Creek Bethlehem Casino. Ms. Smith was inside the Wind Creek Bethlehem Casino in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, during the incident.
The Wind Creek Bethlehem Casino is located on the grounds of the old Bethlehem Steel plant at 77 Wind Creek Blvd. The casino is owned by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians based in Atmore, Alabama.
Thirty-five-year-old Smith, of Essex County, was placed under arrest on January 10 and subsequently charged with two counts of child endangerment. Smith was released on January 14, after posting $800 of the $8,000 bail.
A concerned citizen called the Pennsylvania State Police at 6 pm on January 10 after seeing Ms. Smith’s eight-year-old son and a two-year-old daughter wandering around the fifth floor of the casino’s parking garage.
The young boy told Pennsylvania State Police that he and his sister had come to the Wind Creek Casino with their mother and grandmother. He also told police that his mother had gone inside the casino to search for his grandmother after the grandmother was gone for too long inside the casino. That is when the children were left alone. While Ms. Smith says that she had only left the children alone for around 10 minutes, video surveillance from the scene indicates that she was gone for almost 39 minutes.
After the witness came across the children wandering around the parking garage, they were placed in the custody of the casino security.
Kate Huber, chief editor at NJGamblingFun, a casino watchdog publication in New Jersey had this to say: “We unfortunately see these incidents all the time. Whereas what this woman did was unforgivable, I also want to make sure everyone understands that entering casinos is like entering a maze. Once inside, it’s very hard to find a specific person, let alone figure out how to get out. This woman exercised poor judgement, no doubt. But let’s not pretend casinos make it easier to find people and get back to your car either.”
In Pennsylvania, child endangerment is defined as when a parent or guardian supervising a child under the age of 18 knowingly endangers the welfare of the child. Endangerment is defined as failing to provide care or support, as well as failing to protect or creating a risk of serious bodily injury or death. Child endangerment is a third-degree felony in Pennsylvania, punishable by up to 7 years in jail as well as a $15,000.00 fine.
Teens Charged with Child Endangerment in St. Clair Township
That same week, Pennsylvania State Police filed child endangerment charges against two teenage girls in St. Clair Township, Westmoreland County.
The teens, who were babysitting a two-year-old boy at a home on Jan-L Street, allowed the boy to inhale from a vaping device. According to police reports, the curious 2-year-old boy took the vaping device from a nightstand.
The 17-year-old girl from Seward and the 18-year-old girl from Armagh recorded the incident and posted it to the Snapchat website. The Snapchat video shockingly revealed the boy fell down coughing and crying, while people in the background laughed at him. The state police were made aware of the Snapchat video by someone sending a tip to Pennsylvania’s Safe2Say Something program.
The Superintendent of the United School District of Armagh, Pennsylvania, confirmed that it appears that the two teenage girls are district students in the following statement:
“The United School District administration was made aware of the Snapchat video today, and that the incident is under investigation by the authorities. We believe that the two teenagers involved in the situation are district students. We have provided the names of the two students to the authorities,” stated Superintendent Dr. Barbara Parkins.
Fortunately, the State police reported that the boy didn’t show any signs of serious harm from inhaling from the vaping device. Police also reported that the vape contained 3% nicotine and no THC. State Police investigators also reported that the child’s parents, who reside in New Florence, had been notified. Likewise, Children and Youth Services have also been notified.