The young mother checked her phone during a work break and couldn’t believe what she was seeing.
Photos and videos of her 7-month-old daughter, Annora Anderson, being sat underneath a huge bucket of water at the Greenwood splash park as it filled and then dumped directly on her were playing again and again on Facebook.
Her breath left her chest. She started crying hysterically.
She saw her daughter’s physical reaction to being terrified as the water hit her, wondered if she had inhaled any water and asked why her babysitter would do such a thing.
“There is no way she should have been under that,” said the baby’s mother, Brittany Dixon. “There is no need for it. No matter how many times you put her under that bucket of water, she is not going to like it. She is going to cry every time. She is a baby. There is no reason for her to be under there.”
No one knows how many times the water was dumped on Nora, but the woman who took the video said it happened more than once. That video shows the force of the water surprising the baby, who is crying when she is carried away.
Fellow visitors at the splash park and thousands of Facebook users shared the mother’s outrage, and some got Greenwood police involved. Now, a police and Department of Child Services investigation is underway.
The babysitter has not been arrested or charged. The infant, who the mother calls Nora, was examined in an emergency room Wednesday night and had not inhaled any water and had no injuries, Dixon said.
The incident happened Wednesday afternoon at the Greenwood splash park. A woman called police and asked that an officer check on a baby at the splash pad, and the officer spoke with the caregiver and saw that the baby was having fun in the water.
Case closed. Until a few hours later.
Police received an email from someone in Louisville, Kentucky, who was disturbed by a video posted on Facebook. Officer Randy Eck watched the video, called it concerning and started an investigation, according to a Greenwood police report.
He contacted the Department of Child Services, who had already been notified by a concerned person.
Police tracked down the woman who posted the video, who told officers that she was uncomfortable with how a woman was treating a baby at the splash pad on Wednesday afternoon. She said the caregiver allowed the overhead bucket to fill with water and dump several times directly on the child, sitting below it on the ground, the report said.
The caregiver also had the child walk barefoot on hot pavement and the child screamed and cried as though it was in pain, the witness said. The babysitter pushed her so high on a swing that she almost fell out and allowed a teenager with them to curse at the baby while telling her to shut up, the report said.
Other families at the splash pad on Wednesday afternoon were upset with what they witnessed and left, the witness told police.
Social media helped the witness identify and track down the mother, and the two had already spoken by the time police started the investigation.
The video had been viewed more than 170,000 times in the first 24 hours. Emergency room doctors had already seen the video when Dixon brought Nora in to be checked, they told her.
Dixon, who is a single mother in Greenwood, got to her babysitter’s home to pick up Nora and all of their belongings as soon as she could after work. She said the babysitter told her that Nora was having fun, she wasn’t trying to hurt her and that people need to mind their own business.
“She kept trying to talk to me, and I just kept telling her she was in the wrong,” Dixon said.
Dixon was angry, but decided to let investigators handle the situation.
“They don’t know if it was malicious or a poor choice of judgment,” Dixon said. “That’s what is running through everyone’s head right now.”
The babysitter could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Dixon said the babysitter had taken good care of Nora for the past three months. She watched her for long hours, six days a week while Dixon worked in door-to-door sales. The time away from her child was not ideal, but was necessary in the long run for her and her daughter, Dixon said.
She met the babysitter through a coworker, had spent time with her, saw how the caregiver’s children behaved, that their home was clean and said she took a genuine interest in her daughter.
“You can never be so sure of how that person is going to act with your kid when you’re not there,” Dixon said. “If you have any doubts or gut feelings, stick with them and don’t let that person around your child. No situation is too petty.”
Dixon has enrolled Nora in a church day care, and the child’s father or great-grandparents will care for her in the evenings.