A Utah mother – and registered nurse – who treated her daughter’s flu-like symptoms at home has been charged with negligent homicide after the 9-year-old girl died of a rare disease.
Terece Bundy, 31, appeared in court on Friday to be charged in the death of her daughter Rachel who died of bacterial meningitis on March 4, 2005. Prosecutors allege Bundy’s failure to seek sufficient treatment for Rachel’s debilitating health was a crime.
“This is just a joke that this is taking place,” said Rachel Talley, a friend of the family, who called Bundy a responsible, loving mother who did everything she could for her ill daughter. “She has every right to treat her child.”
The girl had complained of headaches and a stiff neck beginning in early February – a condition treated by a chiropractor throughout that month. Although flu symptoms appeared on March 2, Bundy says Rachel was beginning to feel better on March 3.
Rachel’s lingering illness took a turn for the worse the next day when her mother found her unconscious and not breathing. Despite a call to 911, the girl died.
Although deputy Utah County attorney Donna Kelly acknowledges that bacterial meningitis is a rare disease and the young girl’s death was a tragedy, her office believes Bundy caused the girl’s death by not taking her to the hospital for treatment.
While relatively rare, bacterial meningitis is well-known as a quick killer. According to Dr. Joseph Miner, director of the Utah County Health Department, unless it’s diagnosed and treated, “you’re dealing with just hours, sometimes maybe a day” after the bacteria enters the spinal fluid before virulent infection causes death.
“We considered this case for several months, we reviewed all the police reports, medical examiner’s reports,” Chief Deputy Utah County Attorney Sherry Ragan told the Provo Daily Herald. “It’s kind of a deal where you’re damned if you do and you’re damned if you don’t,” she said.
Ragan expressed concern that if her office didn’t prosecute and another Bundy child died under similar circumstances, it could look like it had not done its job.
The family is ready to fight the charges, says attorney Steven Russell, A website created to tell the Bundy’s side of the story is also used to help raise money for legal fees and encourage supporters to ask the Utah County Attorney’s Office to drop the charges.
“Unless they change their position, and they could, we’re ready to go to a trial,” Russell said.
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