Originally created 11/18/02

Mother tries to drown boy, police say

An Augusta woman's attempt to drown her 3-year-old son in a bathtub may have been a cry for help, the woman's sister said Sunday.

Tabitha Simmons was credited by police with saving the life of her nephew, Christian Isaiah Jones, on Saturday. The boy's mother, Eunice Mathis Jones, is undergoing mental evaluation at Georgia Regional Hospital and will be charged with first-degree child cruelty and obstruction, police said.

Social workers have placed Isaiah into the temporary custody of his grandmother.

On Sunday, Ms. Simmons spoke to The Augusta Chronicle about what might have happened with her sister.

"I don't know if that was her way to cry for help. That's what I take it as," Ms. Simmons said from the living room of the Barton Village home where the incident reportedly occurred.

Ms. Simmons described what took place Saturday:

Ms. Jones brought Isaiah to visit her Saturday. After talking for a while, Ms. Jones went into the bathroom. Soon after, she called Isaiah to join her. Ms. Simmons assumed she wanted Isaiah to use the bathroom.

Everything was quiet for a few minutes before Ms. Simmons heard Isaiah screaming, "No, mama! No, mama!"

Ms. Simmons rushed to the bathroom to see what was wrong. What she saw was too difficult for her to repeat Sunday.

Richmond County sheriff's Investigator Paul Godden said Ms. Simmons reported seeing her sister holding Isaiah over the edge of the tub, trying to drown him. His hair and clothes were wet and he was "fighting like a wildcat" to keep from being dunked again, the investigator said.

Ms. Simmons said she stopped her sister and let Isaiah leave the room. She called her mother, who advised her to call police.

Before police arrived, Ms. Jones tried to harm herself with a screwdriver, but Ms. Simmons stopped her, she said.

Deputy Timothy Allen suffered minor cuts to his fingers while trying to take a pair of scissors from Ms. Jones' hands, police said.

Ms. Jones, 32, of Pine Hill Road, will be taken to the Richmond County jail after her evaluation.

A hospital examination of Isaiah showed no signs of injury, his aunt said. He seems to have recovered.

"I think it really didn't click for him what happened," she said.

Ms. Jones is separated and is receiving child support, her sister said. She stopped working about a month ago to better care for Isaiah and her 9-year-old daughter. The daughter is also with the grandmother.

Ms. Simmons said she doesn't have a clue what sparked the incident.

"She truly does love that little boy," Ms. Simmons said Sunday. "Yesterday wasn't my sister."

Reach Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 828-3851 or greg.rickabaugh@augustachronicle.com.


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