Officers found a woman slumped over the console of her car a half-block from the police station Wednesday morning and discovered she was partially covering her 5-month-old daughter who was dead.
A young boy between 2 and 3 years old was in the back seat and was OK and the 30-year-old mother of both children was taken to St. James Health Care and was being questioned by police late Wednesday morning, Sheriff Ed Lester said.
Officers started CPR on the infant immediately and paramedics continued those efforts on the way to St. James but the girl never regained consciousness.
Police driving by saw the woman slumped over in a 2003 Buick Rendezvous that was parked on Alaska Street and still running at 8:41 a.m., Lester said, but they couldn't wake her.
“When they saw that she was partially on the infant they bashed out the passenger side window and discovered the baby wasn’t breathing and had no pulse,” Lester said.
Lester said the woman has been living in Butte but police had not determined what happened. He didn’t know yet whether the mother was intoxicated or under the influence of drugs.
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"I don't know why she was parked there with the car running," he said. "It didn't look like she had any contact with us so I have no idea how long she had been there."
The woman’s name wasn’t released and the investigation was ongoing. The infant's body will be transported to the state crime lab in Missoula, where an autopsy and toxicology tests will be performed on the girl, Lester said.
Officers who tried to save the infant were shaken up, he said.
“These guys are trained to save lives and they are disappointed they couldn’t do more,” he said.
The young boy is currently in the custody of the state's division of Child and Family Services.