A Tucson mom arrested Jan. 5 on charges of child abuse after her daughter was severely burned in a bathtub might have waited up to six hours to seek medical treatment, court records show.
Samantha Osteraas is facing two counts of child abuse after her 5-year-old daughter suffered third-degree burns to 80 percent of her body during a Dec. 29 incident, according to a Pima County Sheriff’s Department search warrant return filed in Pima County Superior Court.
At about 8 p.m., sheriff’s deputies and paramedics with the Rural Metro Fire Department arrived at Osteraas’ home, in the 2900 block of West Sun Ranch Trail, near North Shannon Road and West Lambert Lane, for reports of a burned child, the warrant return says.
Osteraas told 911 dispatchers she didn’t realize she was bathing her daughter in hot water. When authorities arrived, they noticed serious burns on the girl’s whole body, from her upper-chest down, the document says.
Deputies also noted bruises to the child’s neck and left arm, and saw blood and signs of trauma on her upper-lip. Hours after the incident, it was reported that she was in respiratory and organ failure, the warrant return says.
Osteraas told detectives her husband was at work and she had just bathed two of her other children when she drained the water and refilled the tub, leaving her daughter in the bathroom “to climb into the tub herself,” the document says.
Osteraas said she went into the other room to watch TV for about 15 minutes and when she went back into the bathroom she turned off the running water and “noted that the victim was slumped over the side of the tub and appeared to be what she described as lethargic, with the top of her body hanging out over the tub,” according to the document.
“She told detectives that the child looked up and stated, ‘Hi, Mommy,’” the search warrant return says.
Osteraas told detectives she took her daughter out of the tub and into the master bedroom.
“Detectives did note in the master bedroom a large blood stain on the floor where the victim was laid by her adoptive mother,” the document says.
When she returned to drain the tub water, she described it as being hot to the point that she had to use cold water to cool her hand, according to the document.
Osteraas said she called her husband and neighbors on her cellphone after pulling her daughter from the tub.
During her interview, she told detectives she had consumed two beers that night and has a prescription for Adderall, an amphetamine-derived drug used to treat ADHD, according to the document.
Doctors at Banner-University Medical Center told detectives the next morning that medical findings indicated the girl’s burns could have been inflicted up to six hours before Osteraas called for medical treatment, the search warrant return says.
The Osteraas’ three other children were taken into custody by the Arizona Department of Child Safety, and during an interview two of the children told case workers they were playing on an iPad while their sister was in the bathtub, the documents says.
Because of the time discrepancy between when Osteraas said the incident happened and when doctors believe it did, detectives are reviewing the iPads to help determine when the incident took place.
Osteraas is in the Pima County jail on a $25,000 bond. It’s unclear from court documents if she has an attorney.
“I am very appreciative of the professional investigation conducted by the deputies on the scene and our detectives,” said Sheriff Mark Napier.
“The victim suffered significant injuries that were very difficult for our personnel to have to address as part of the investigative process.”
The girl remains in critical condition at a hospital.
Contact reporter Caitlin Schmidt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 573-4191. Twitter: @caitlinschmidt