Police: Mom tried to suffocate 4-month-old boy inside Lawrenceville hospital

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LAWRENCEVILLE, Pa. - A 4-month-old West Virginia boy is recovering after police said his mother may have attempted to suffocate him as many as 15 times since August, including Friday and Saturday inside a Lawrenceville hospital.

According to Pittsburgh police Lt. Kevin Kraus, the child was treated for six incidents at a hospital in Charleston, and on the sixth time on Oct. 18, doctors transferred him to Children’s Hospital in Lawrenceville.

There, investigators believe Rachel Nelson, 22, of Costa, W.Va., tried to suffocate the boy on Friday and again on Saturday.

Police charged Nelson with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of a child and recklessly endangering another person.

“From what we understand, she would compress the child, smothering him to near death,” Kraus said. “The baby would turn blue and stop breathing.”

Police said they plan to arrest her upon her release from Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Oakland where she is being evaluated. Police said more charges could be added.

“We believe there were several incidents, upwards of 15 between West Virginia and Pittsburgh,” Kraus said.

The criminal complaint said on Friday, Shawn Nelson, 43, the child’s father, alerted nurses the boy wasn’t breathing and performed rescue breaths until nurses arrived and resuscitated him.

Shawn Nelson said he was sleeping when the boy became unresponsive.

On Saturday, the child again was breathing abnormally and doctors revived him. Video of his room shows Rachel Nelson blocking the camera’s view of him.

A doctor told investigators the child has no underlying medical condition that would cause him to stop breathing.

According to the criminal complaint, Rachel Nelson first told investigators she “blacked out” during the incidents involving the child but eventually said she was alert and would hold the boy against her chest and hold him tighter when he struggled for air.

It’s unclear what the long-term effects of the assaults will be, Kraus said, but the boy is in stable condition and under guard at the hospital.

Kraus said Shawn Nelson cooperated with investigators and does not face charges.

Channel 11’s news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.