Woman arrested on child abuse, neglect charges after 3 kids hospitalized for high CO levels

CHICKASHA, Okla. -- A woman was arrested after three children were hospitalized with high carbon monoxide levels in Oklahoma.

Chickasha police were called the Chickasha Travel Plaza after someone called about three children having seizures.

According to court documents, when police arrived, they found 35-year-old Rebekkah Sterling holding a 3-year-old child while the doors of her Chrysler were open, but the windows remained up. An 8-year-old boy was laying down on the folded down seat with his arms "clinched tightly to his chest."

Authorities said a 2-year-old child was behind the driver's seat, "curled up in a ball and crying."

The children were found in unwashed clothes, with various cuts and scrapes and dirty fingernails. Police said the vehicle was in filthy condition, had an "overwhelming smell" and contained trash and dirty clothes.

The Chickasha Express-Star reported when an officer opened the center console, several cockroaches crawled out.

The children were taken to the hospital, where they were admitted for elevated carbon monoxide levels and neglect. Police said nurses were initially unable to get urine from two of the children due to a lack of fluids.

They were given food and ate quickly, "as if they had not eaten in a while."

Test results showed carbon monoxide in and around the vehicle, according to the Chickasha Fire Department.

Sterling told police she noticed one of her children convulsing while she was getting gas. She said she got out of the vehicle, opened the doors to air it out and then found someone with a phone to call for help. She allegedly admitted that she knew about a possible exhaust leak when an officer asked her if she knew about the carbon monoxide. She said she took the vehicle to a repair shop, but "nothing has been properly fixed yet," court documents state.

Police said “her behavior did not show extreme concern for her children and she was making excuses for why they were so filthy." They said she appeared “calm and lackadaisical.”

She told police she did not have another means of transportation. She also reportedly told an officer there is an open case with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services  against her due to the conditions of her house not being in a proper condition for the children.

She was arrested and taken to jail for child neglect and child abuse by injury.

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