Charges Against Parents in Near Death of Toddler Waived for Court

| February 14, 2019

OIL CITY, Pa. (EYT) – Felony child endangerment and related charges against a couple after their toddler nearly died due to alleged neglect have been waived for court.

According to court documents, criminal charges against 46-year-old Kenneth Blaine Hoover and 39-year-old Jennifer Renee Matassa were waived for court on Wednesday, February 13.

The charges are the result of the violation of the duty of care that occurred sometime between June 15, 2018, and December 13, 2018, resulting in the near death of their minor daughter, acccording to a criminal complaint filed on February 7, 2019.

Hoover faces the following charges:

– Criminal Conspiracy Engaging – Endangering Welfare of Children – Parent/Guardian/Other Commits Offense, Felony 2
– Endangering Welfare of Children – Parent/Guardian/Other Commits Offense, Felony 3
– Criminal Conspiracy Engaging – Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Misdemeanor 2
– Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Misdemeanor 1

Matassa faces the following charges:

– Criminal Conspiracy Engaging – Endangering Welfare of Children – Parent/Guardian/Other Commits Offense, Felony 3
– Endangering Welfare of Children – Parent/Guardian/Other Commits Offense, Felony 3
– Criminal Conspiracy Engaging – Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Misdemeanor 2
– Recklessly Endangering Another Person, Misdemeanor 2

Both individuals are free on $50,000.00 unsecured bail each.

The cases were transferred to Venango County Court of Common Pleas.

Details of the case:

The criminal complaint states that on June 15, 2018, Jennifer Matassa took their daughter to a WIC appointment at the Oil City clinic. At that time, the child weighed 25 pounds at 18 months of age. The blood hemoglobin levels of the child were checked and found to be at 10.5 (a lower than average level). According to witnesses interviewed, Matassa was directed to follow up with the child’s primary care provider to address the issue. The witnesses stated that they personally offered to provide transportation to the physician for the defendants and the child, but those were ignored.

According to the complaint, around 7:00 a.m. on December 13, after observing the physical condition of their daughter – that being unresponsive and unable to hold herself upright – Matassa transported their daughter to UPMC Northwest Emergency Room for treatment. Upon arrival at UPMC, the child was in a state of cardiac arrest, was not breathing and had a core body temperature of 86. Resuscitation techniques were employed, and the child was brought back to a point where the heartbeat was detected. The child was then directly transported via Life Flight to UPMC Children Hospital Pediatric Intensive Care Unit for additional treatment.

Upon examination and treatment on December 13, 2018, by Dr. Andrew Prout at UPMC CHP PICU, he indicated profound hypothermia with a blood count undetectable by current conventional means and techniques.

Additionally, the weight of the child upon treatment was documented at 16 pounds. Dr. Prout certified the child to be in critical condition, with a prognosis of grim to death, or permanent neurological disability, To date (February 7, 2019) – the prognosis reported by UPMC CHP PICU has not changed.

On January 4, 2019, at 10:43 a.m., Patrolman Culp spoke with the child’s attending physician at UPMC CHP PICU, Dr. Adelaide Eichman. During the conversation, Patrolman Culp requested to know the causation factors resulting in the near fatality of the child.

In summary, Dr. Eichman indicated that the long term nutritional neglect of the child led to extreme weight loss. Medical neglect allowed the decreased levels of blood hemoglobin to go undetected, resulting in the thinning of her blood. These factors triggered a cardiac arrest event in the child. Because the heart was then unable to sufficiently pump the thinned blood throughout the body, the core temperature dropped, resulting in the hypothermic conditions, according to the complaint.

Her exact diagnosis was that the child was malnourished and pancytopenia (the deficiency of all three cellular components of the blood – red cells, white cells, and platelets).


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