Dad arrested after Clearwater toddler drowns in bathtub

Pinellas County Sheriff's Office
A photo of the bedroom adjacent to the bath.

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) – Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri shared more details into the investigation of a toddler’s drowning death.

The child’s father, 34-year-old Alan Morris was jailed Thursday morning on aggravated manslaughter charges Thursday after his son, Liam Morris drowned in a bathtub last month.

On September 28, Morris left Liam in a bath unattended. Minutes later, he was found submerged underwater.

Deputies said Alan pulled Liam from the water and called 911 while the child’s mother, Madelynne Barenbrugge, 34, performed CPR until paramedics arrived and took over.

The child was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

A photo of the bathtub.

At a press conference Thursday, Sheriff Gualtieri gave a better idea of the circumstances leading up to Liam’s death.

He said Morris prepared the bath after dinner. Instead of putting the child in the bath’s baby seat, he sat Liam on the floor of the tub, plugged the drain and turned on the water.

The father left Liam alone while he went into an adjacent room to “talk” with Barenbrugge. When questioned by detectives, the couple would not say what they were discussing.

Investigators believe they left the child unattended for somewhere between 8 and 23 minutes, as much time as it would take to fill the bathtub.

Morris eventually checked on the child after he heard the water overflowing and found his son’s lifeless body.

Detectives later found marijuana, syringes and methadone and suboxone, two drugs to treat opioid addiction, inside the home. The couple admitted to using marijuana, but claimed they didn’t smoke that day. Both Morris and Barenbrugge refused to take drug tests.

Investigators tried several times to contact the couple for interviews, but say they refused to meet with detectives or would call back at odd times, as though they were trying to evade the cops.

Deputies showed up with a search warrant Thursday morning and took Morris into custody.

No charges were filed against Barenbrugge.

“It’s always a tough situation, especially arresting parents, but when you leave 1-year-old in the bathtub with the water running, it’s beyond careless, it’s criminal,” said Gualtieri.

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