Parents speak about death of infant at VT day care

Vermont News

More details are being released about the circumstances surrounding a six-month-old found unresponsive at her Vermont daycare.

Recently released toxicology results show that she had ingested high concentrations of diphenhydramine, which is the active, sedating ingredient in over-the-counter antihistamines, such as Benadryl.

Marissa Colburn and Blake Briar said their baby girl, Harper Rose Briar, was 100 percent healthy the morning of January 24th, 2018 when she was dropped off at the state-certified in-home daycare. They never told the daycare provider to give her any medication nor were they asked for permission, so it came as a shock when they learned the results of the autopsy and toxicology.

Harper Rose was known to her family as “Perfect Princess”. The little peanut was born 6 pounds, 17 inches long on July 24, 2018 at 1:46 p.m. Colburn’s mother picked out her name. “She was a very happy baby, always smiling, she was just perfect. That’s just the best way to describe her, perfect,” said Colburn. She had just started crawling, holding her bottle on her own and got her first tooth. Her favorite food — green beans — in baby food form of course. 

Briar was working and Colburn decided to go back to school full time for Social Work at Castleton University. Colburn was never fond of the idea of daycare and being apart from her baby, but she spent three months vetting daycare providers to make sure she chose the right one. 

On the third day of daycare, Colburn was just leaving school on her way to pick up Harper when she got the news; via text message, no less. “I actually got a text message, it wasn’t a call. She said: ‘Baby sick. Ambulance here. Go to hospital.’,” said Colburn. She added that the daycare provider never showed up at the hospital or reached out to check on Harper’s well-being.

For the last two months, Colburn and Briar had no answers as to how their baby girl died. They had been waiting for the toxicolgy results to come in. On March 13, 2019, they would learn that their daughter had ingested more than one dose of Diphenhydramine, which is the active, sedating ingredient in antihistamines, such as Benadryl.

Days later, Stacey Vaillencourt, 53, was arrested and charged with Manslaughter and Cruelty to a Child. She pleaded not guilty and was released on $25,000.

“Blake and I both want for her, the person who was solely taking care of her at the time to be held responsible. There really was no need for it. There’s no need to give a healthy, happy baby anything to sedate them. There really is no reason. We don’t understand. I don’t know if we’ll ever understand. It’s just awful,” said Colburn.

Many unanswered questions remain. The family hoping that there is Justice for Harper. The family will also be pushing for “Harper’s Law”, to see stricter penalties for in-home daycares and mandatory cameras for surveillance.

“When you have a child that can’t talk or stand up for themselves, you don’t know what’s going on and the person you think you can trust, they could be doing something you don’t know about. Unfortunately for us, it makes us never want to use a day care again,” said Colburn.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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