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Monday, January 26, 2009

Mother Of Toddler Injured In Fire Is Arrested

   The mother of a Lawrenceburg toddler who sustained serious injuries when their apartment caught fire last week, has been arrested on child neglect charges.

   Emergency personnel responded to the 911 Kramer Avenue fire around noon on Wednesday, January 21. Fire Investigator Shayne Adams with the Lawrenceburg Fire Department indicated that the apartment was occupied by Sherry Mendoza and her four young children, including boys ages 1, 2 and 3. When the fire erupted both the 2 and 3 year olds were able to escape the blaze. Adams said bystander Nicholas Moore quickly entered the burning home and snatched the injured one-year-old from his crib. He was then able to carry the toddler, who had sustained second and third degree burns to his face, hands, and chest, to safety.

   The toddler, Diego Mendoza, was transported to Crockett Hospital, then transferred to Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, where he remains a patient in the facility’s Burn Unit.

   Initially the fire had been ruled accidental in nature, with officials indicating the most likely cause was a child playing with a space heater. The heater in question was on the high setting when found by firefighters. Lawrenceburg Police Chief Judy Moore issued a press release Monday, however, indicating that additional facts about the fire had come to light.

   In the press release Moore reported, “On Saturday investigators with the department’s Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Division arrested Sherry Lynn Mendoza, age 25.” Moore explained that, “Mendoza did leave three of her small children unattended in her upstairs apartment…Investigators did seek petitions for emergency custody of her children. Her four children are in the custody of the Tennessee Department of Children Services at this time.”

   At press time Mendoza remained incarcerated without bond at the Lawrence County Jail on charges of aggravated child neglect and two counts of reckless endangerment. Mendoza is scheduled to answer the charges through Lawrence County General Sessions Court at 9:00 a.m. on Friday, February 6, 2009.