Baby drowns at baptism.

Sarah - posted on 07/28/2010 ( 19 moms have responded )




A six-week-old baby drowned as he was baptised after his face was submerged in water several times.
Father Valentin has been accused of manslaughter after allegedly failing to cover the tot's mouth before immersing him.
The priest denies being to blame for baby's death at the ceremony in the Rascani district in north-western Moldova, Eastern Europe.

Your thoughts?
Should fully immersing a baby be stopped? I thought they just sprinkled water on their foreheads (that's what I've seen at the baptisms/christenings I've been to)

Is the priest to blame?


Caitlin - posted on 07/28/2010




As far as i'm aware it is very possible that the baby stopped breathing and died 20 minutes after. I'm not 100% sure, but as a lifeguard when I was younger, it's called a secondary drowning, where the person inhales water and it lies in their lungs and causes an infection (this in the case of an adult/child) but i'm assuming, depending on what kind of water is used, that water is packed full of bacteria in some cases if they don't change the water often enough and stagnates and could actually carry some very serious bacteria that would be able to attack a newborn baby's lungs much sooner than a childs. Also, depending on the amount of water inhaled as well, the infant could have been having difficulty breathing and getting enough oxygen, becoming hypoxic and causing a nosebleed from forcing too hard to breathe. Although I find it hard to believe that no signs of hypoxia were noticed before that (laboured breathing, crying, blueish tinge tot he lips/face). I find the whole process of imersing the child antiquated, but it was the parents who consented to the practice, so not really a case of religion. The priest shoudl have been more fully trained in my opinion to perform the procedure on a baby and be able to spot signs of distress so that appropriate action can be taken. Just my humble opinion though.

Shelley - posted on 07/28/2010




Infant full immersion baptism is common in the greek orthodox church they cover the baby in oil and immerce 3 times in the name of the father son and holy spirit thats the relevance of repeated immersions. I'd like to know if their was a pre existing condition. If not this is so sad.
When infant baptism occurs its about the covenant family and the parents saying you are our god and we are your people and we will attempt to bring our child up in the way of the lord prior to that child becoming a church member they make a public confession of faith the adult or older child saying I honour my baptism and will continue to follow my faith. similar to a baby dedicated and then baptised as an adult ect but the other way round.

LaCi - posted on 07/28/2010




Even after older children spend the day swimming, they could drown overnight after experiencing few symptoms, other than some fatigue-which is typically blamed on the swimming for however many hours.

"It is vital that this person get medical attention as quickly as possible. As the name implies, the person can drown even several hours later as the fluid in the lungs impairs the breathing process. Water also will damage the inside surface of the lung, collapse the alveoli and cause a hardening of the lungs which will reduce the ability to exchange air."

"When water enters the lungs the victim's blood chemistry is rapidly altered, often leading to heart failure. In fresh water drownings inhaled water is immediately absorbed into the blood causing hemodilution. The diluted blood quickly leads to heart failure due to ventricular fibrillation, a condition simply described as shivering of the heart, or anoxia (oxygen starvation). Sea or salt water creates the opposite effect. Water is drawn from the blood into the lungs. This process causes the blood to become more concentrated, leading to an increased load on the heart and heart failure. Older drowning victims may experience immediate heart failure as a result of the initial trauma of drowning, particularly in extremely cold water."

The nosebleed could be due to the irritation to the nose from the water. it would be easy for the blood to make it's way out the mouth as well. Extremely high blood pressure, if I'm not mistaken, can cause the bleeding as well, and the blood pressure could spike when subsequent heart issues arise from the drowning.

One case:

"A recent case in the US brought secondary drowning to the attention of the general public. Johnny, a 10-year-old, spent 45 minutes splashing around in a pool. He had arm bands on and was watched by an adult throughout the time he was in the pool. A few hours later, after returning home and taking a nap, Johnny's mother found him unconscious and foaming at the mouth. Unfortunately, Johnny died of a heart attack on the way to the hospital. A preliminary autopsy showed the cause of death was asphyxiation due to drowning.

According to a spokeman for American College of Emergency Physicians, "Johnny would have only had to inhale four ounces of water to drown, and even less to injure his lung enough to become a victim of secondary drowning."

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Ashley - posted on 07/31/2010




Different religions even in the same sect do things differently. I am Presbyterian, witch is a sect off of the Christian faith. At my church the Reverend takes the holly water in his hands and makes a cross on the forehead of the baby with it.
On the debate of letting a child chose to be baptized. I totally agree with Michelle Buganey. As a parent make the choice to raise my son in Gods hands. When he gets older and can be confirmed then he gets to make that choice if he wants to continue to live by God or whatever he may believe at the time. I
I completely think that the immersing of a baby needs to be stopped. If you feel like the child needs to be dunked into the water maybe you could dump the babies feet instead of its head. Something needs to be done about this ritual for sure.

Michelle Buganey

Danielle - posted on 07/30/2010




Good lord! Fully immersing a baby in water shouldn't be done during a baptism or any other time! I don't care what your religious beliefs are. Any baptism I've been to also was just a little water poured over the baby's forehead with a little cup.

Katherine - posted on 07/29/2010




Horrible!!!! No, I have heard of full emmersion for older children and adults but never for an infant. I wouldn't reccommend or condone it.

The priest is to blame partially, he should get manslaughter. It was completely irresponsible on his part.

What a tragedy.

[deleted account]

yeah my mom actually told me about this dry drowning deal, and yes ive been afraid of it after a bath incident with my oldest. thankfully he was fine , as i checked on him like 10 times throught the night and had a monitor on him... but man i wonder if this baby had an underlying condition? obviously i and my friends have had their babies christened but not fully emerged, just rinsed on their heads with holy water.. idk..kind of strange and very sad

Jessica - posted on 07/28/2010




Mormons do full immersion for baptising...they do baptisim for the dead to....anyways, very sad for the family and the baby :( And yet people still believe that there God is merciful and full of love..something I will never understand.

[deleted account]

OMG.....that is absolutely heart wrenching!!!! I always thought that when they baptised a baby they just sprinkled water on them!??!! Not sure.... as I do not believe in baptising babies or children until they are of age to know what they are doing or choosing to do w/ their life w/ God. Unfortuately I think he should get some kind of punishment bc an innocent life was taken:(

Jenny - posted on 07/28/2010




That's really sad. I wonder how they believe that fit's into god's plan?

[deleted account]

I'm not in favor of infant baptism anyway since it's not the infant making the choice, but dunking them? And SEVERAL times?! No way. Any religion/pastor/priest that does that practice needs to hear about this case and read up on the dangers of infant water intoxication and 'dry drowning.' That poor baby. :(

Amie - posted on 07/28/2010




The only ones I've ever seen fully immersed are older children and adults. I don't understand this. Are there some christian sects that fully immerse babies? Why was the baby dunked several times?

[deleted account]

Omg i never would allow anybody to do that to my baby how ever religious i way..i take so much care washing my baby's when they were young..i would have a heart attack watching someone do that to my six week old child.It should be stopped.A drop of water is fine..immersing lord no.Priest is to blame 100% , i cant imagine how heartbroken the parents must be.

I agree i heard of a story of a boy who drowned hours later in this bed,after he was swimming earlier and swallowed water.

Jodi - posted on 07/28/2010




I don't get kids were both baptised as older children (Jayden was 9, Taylah was 3), but honestly, they were NOT dunked in water. They laid their heads over the font, but it never went over their mouths!!! I don't understand how on earth this could happen. I have seen many other baptisms in my church, and many others, and I just can't see it happening. Not one of them DUNKED an infant!!! Dunking isn't standard!!!

Sharon - posted on 07/28/2010




The "dying 20 minutes later" thing - yeah its possible. Its called dry drowning. After you google that - you'll be terrified every time your kid has a bad episode in a pool or bathtub!

IF that is the case its not entirely the priests fault - but good lord???? Is it normal to dunk an INFANT multiple times? If it is, it that their churches' normal practice then this is just a horrible accident.

If it isn't then this priests' history should be closely examined for other instances of child abuse.

Julie - posted on 07/28/2010




Hmm, this: "Twenty minutes later, he started bleeding from his nose and mouth and died." is the part I don't get. I know NOTHING of infant drowning, but I would suspect there was another pathology that caused the infant's death. One doesn't drown TWENTY minutes after leaving the water, just makes no sense. Unless that pathologist was a specialized pathologist, I would not believe the report as simply a drowning death.

The parents have every right to be upset, but I don't think it is entirely the priest's fault. What happened wasn't necessarily cause and effect, it could easily be action and coincidence.

That being said, immersing an infant for baptism seems like an antiquated practice that should be stopped. Kids, fine. Adults, fine. Babies, NO WAY!

Oh, and many religions stipulate that one must be baptized in order to get into heaven, no ifs, ands or buts. BUT, in cases of "emergency" even a lay person may baptize, just in case (think birth of child who may be dying or die soon). For example, my son was born at 26 weeks and he was baptized ASAP once he left the room and I didn't know about it. The chaplain told us he did so. Obviously, we could still do a formal baptism later if we chose, but my son was "protected" should he have died. We are not religious, but were not offended. I don't really think a person can be over-blessed by too many different religions.

Anyhow, short answer-I doubt the priest was wholly to blame, if at all. The "evidence" just does not add up for me at this time.

Tara - posted on 07/28/2010




Unreal!! Yes he should be charged with manslaughter. I know he didn't intend to kill the baby, but sheesh, if he were anyone but a priest he would be charged with murder!!!
If a mom held her baby under water say to get him used to the feeling, only for seconds at a time, but he died because he drowned, she would be charged with murder.
This is so sad, I don't think babies need to be baptised (my own belief) but if it is a must to satisfy a religious requirement than at least do it safely!!!

LaCi - posted on 07/28/2010




I've also never heard of anyone submerging a baby, only the sprinkles.

SO was the baby saved or not before he drowned it?

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