Hospital workers say Latrobe toddler nearly died from abuse, injuries, cocaine in system

Mother accused of child abuse so severe she nearly killed her 23-month-old son

LATROBE, Pa. — Hospital workers said a young child nearly died after they were injured in a case of suspected child abuse and found to have cocaine in their system, according to court documents.

Crystal Steele was charged with aggravated assault, endangering the welfare of children, possession of a controlled substance and other offenses.

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Court documents said a report was made to a child abuse hotline that someone saw Steele become physical with the child, who was screaming. Later that day, Steele took the child to Latrobe Hospital, where staff noticed what they believed to be signs of abuse. The child was taken to Children’s Hospital for further examination and treatment.

State police arrived at Children’s Hospital where doctors told them “this was a near fatality,” according to court documents. The child had numerous bruises, fractures and swelling near the skull. While at the hospital, a urine sample was taken and the child tested positive for cocaine, as well.

Police said Steele told them the child must have fallen or gotten the injuries while playing with their dog. When police conducted a search warrant at her home in Derry Township, they found marijuana, a suspected crack rock, a stamp bag of heroin, various pills and drug paraphernalia. Troopers said Steele later admitted to hitting the child and using drugs.

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