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Toddler Hanged Herself As Mother Passes Out From Drugs In Driver Seat

A mother has been arrested after she got high on drugs and left her 2-year-old daughter unattended for hours in her car seat, where she somehow fatally injured herself, authorities said.

Deanna J. Joseph, 39, was charged with second-degree child endangerment after she called 911 around 9:45 p.m. from her home on Timberman Road to report that her child was unresponsive, State Police said.

“It appeared the child was confined in a car seat for an extended period of time while the mother was under the influence of drugs, and may have injured herself in the car seat,” Salem County Prosecutor John T. Lenahan said Sunday.

Lenahan said the child had no obvious signs of blunt force trauma and the exact cause of death will be determined by the medical examiner’s office.

Joseph, who was in the vehicle with her daughter, had left the car parked but running, he said. It was a cool night, he said, but Joseph had the heater on.

This is Joseph’s third arrest in nine years on charges related to neglect of a child, according to court records.

Most recently, Joseph was convicted in 2014 of cruelty and neglect of a child after authorities reportedly found her unconscious while her son, then an infant, bathed in several inches of water in a South Amboy apartment. She was sentenced to a year in jail and was released a year ago this month, records show.

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