ARDEN HILLS, Minn. (KMSP) - A 32-year-old woman faces two charges of child endangerment after her niece nearly drowned May 26 in Lake Johanna in Arden Hills, Minnesota.
According to the criminal complaint, Jennifer Rae Chapman, 32, was the designated guardian for her two children - ages 7 and 9 - and her 3-year-old niece when the group went to Lake Johanna.
Around 2:45 p.m. May 26, authorities responded to the lake on a report of a drowning. When they arrived they found a 3-year-old girl lying on her back surrounded by people performing CPR. She was breathing and had a weak pulse.
According to the complaint, Chapman was in the bathroom at the time of the incident.
The child was treated by medics and transported to the hospital. Chapman traveled with her in the ambulance.
Investigators spoke with the child's father, Chapman's brother, who said she was watching the children while he was at the laundromat. He said that to his understanding, Chapman left the children while she used the bathroom and that the 3-year-old requires constant supervision when in the water.
Authorities also spoke with the child's mother who said she sent Chapman a text message that night asking how the 3-year-old was doing. Chapman replied that she was "doing really good."
About 30 minutes later, the child's father contacted the mother and informed her about the drowning. Hours earlier, he told police he did not have contact information for the child's mother.
When investigators interviewed Jennifer Chapman, she said that when she left to use the bathroom, the other children were in waist-deep water and the 3-year-old was in very shallow water. She estimated she was gone for only two or three minutes. Chapman said she didn't say anything to the other kids before she left for the bathroom.
Chapman also said the 3-year-old was not wearing any floatation device, had no water safety experience and was not self-sufficient in a water environment. She said she "made it clear" to all of the children that they should stay in the shallow water.
Chapman also said she has found that the 3-year-old is able to understand boundaries and consequences.