On 07/10/19, the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office became aware that a 35-month-old female was taken to the Yavapai Regional Medical Center West (YRMC) under suspicious circumstances. The toddler's mother Ciara Mendoza-Keel had witnessed the child staggering and eventually collapsing becoming unconscious. Preliminary toxicology on the child tested positive for THC. Due to the immediate danger to the child, the attending physician at YRMC had her transported to Phoenix Children’s Hospital via helicopter. Ciara and her second, 23-month-old daughter drove to PCH on their own.
Ciara Mendoza-Keel, stated her husband Francis has a medical marijuana card. She explained her husband has marijuana, wax and other edibles, specifically gummies. It should be noted that edibles and wax are high potency marijuana derivatives. Additionally, Ciara stated when she confronted Francis about their daughter’s condition, he admitted knowing his daughter had consumed an unknown portion of the edibles.
Francis Mendoza-Keel, admitted to having smokable marijuana as well as edible derivatives. Additionally, he confirmed having the box containing his marijuana in his room at the Ash Fork Hotel on the evening of 07/09/19. Mendoza-Keel stated he smoked two marijuana cigarettes before bed on the evening of 07/09/19. He is not sure if he secured the rest of his marijuana before going to sleep. He believes she ate four (50mg) marijuana Sour Rainbow Belts out of five from a bag that he admits belonged to him. Francis said one of these gummies has a tranquilizing effect on him and he is 6’00, 250 pounds. Again, he believes his 35 month-old-old daughter ate four of the gummies and estimates she weighs about 30 pounds.
The AZ Department of Child Safety had toxicology performed on the toddler’s younger 23-month-old sister. She also tested positive for THC. The exact level of THC for either child isnot known at this time.
Francis Mendoza-Keel was taken into custody and booked on two counts of Child Abuse for recklessly allowing the two children to consume Marijuana edibles.
At this time, the 35-month-old victim is in the Phoenix Children’s Hospital Intensive Care Unit but is expected to be downgraded to a Step-Down Unit as her condition is improving. The younger sister was admitted to the Phoenix Children’s Hospital for observation and malnourishment.
Both the Yavapai Sheriff’s Office and the Arizona Department of Child Services continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding this event.
The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office is reminding our communities to take great care in securing all your medicines (prescription or over the counter) and toxic substances. Especially, with medical marijuana edible products as they are presented as snacks or treats and have very little security such as child safety lids.
Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office with information or questions at 928-771-3260 or the YCSO website: www.ycsoaz.gov