Community reacts after mother, family arrested in infant's death - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Community reacts after mother, family arrested in death of infant

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Summer Shelley Summer Shelley

The mother of a 5-month-old baby girl has been arrested and charged in connection with the child's death.

Effingham County Sheriff's investigators charged Summer Shelley, 19, of Bloomingdale, with felony cruelty to children in the second degree, false statements, possession of marijuana, and possession of drug related objects.

On April 26, deputies responded to a residence on Appaloosa Way on a report of a child not breathing.

The child, Payton Ward, was pronounced dead at a local hospital a short time later.

"The child died of asphyxiation in a accidental death. The mother may have rolled over on the child," said Sheriff's spokesman David Ehsanipoor.

During the investigation, detectives located drugs and drug related objects inside of the residence.

"The investigation revealed that Summer Shelley, who was high on drugs, did not provide the child with necessary medical care and that she was smoking marijuana in bed with the child prior to falling asleep for an extended period of time," Ehsanipoor said.

The child's grandmother, Sharon Nyberg, 43, of Guyton, was charged with false statements to law enforcement regarding the death investigation.

During the arrest, the child's father, Bryant Ward, 25, of Bloomingdale, who is on parole, was also arrested and charged with simple assault on a law enforcement officer and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.

Friends of Shelley paint a different picture of the girl.

"People are bashing her and it's horrible. This girl did everything she had to do to take care of that child and now she is being put in the spotlight like she murdered her child, and that is just not the case. It breaks my heart, so I can't imagine the pain she is going through with it," said Alexis Burke, good friends with Shelley.

People that live on Appaloosa Way have been following the case closely.

"It was shocking, and then to find out it was a 5-month-old baby, it was even more shocking," said neighbor Candi Wilkins.

"It is a sad situation for everyone involved, but she has to take responsibility for her actions," said Ehsanipoor.

Nyberg, Shelley and Ward were all booked in the Effingham County Jail.

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