Medical examiners ID infant who died in August after sleeping with parent

An infant rushed to the hospital after being found unresponsive in early August died from “sudden unexpected infant death in the setting of unsafe sleep environment,” an autopsy report shows.

Medical examiners identified the boy as 7-month-old Benjamin Buckner. The autopsy report, completed Sept. 23, listed Buckner’s manner of death as “undetermined.”

There were no injuries to Buckner’s body, medical examiners said. Officials said Buckner had an enlarged thymus, a butterfly-shaped gland lying at the base of the neck.

The identity and age of the mother, whom the baby was sleeping with, was not released. Indian River County deputies described the boy’s death as a “terrible tragedy.”

“It appears the baby suffocated. This shows how deadly co-sleeping can be,” Indian River County sheriff’s spokesman Maj. Eric Flowers previously said. “Parents put their baby in bed with them. They wake up and the baby is dead. Infants should always be kept in a crib.”

Deputies received a call about a frantic mother and an unresponsive infant just before 6 a.m. August 2 at the Samaritan Center, a residential facility for the homeless, Flowers said. The center is located at 3650 41st Street.

Responding deputies tried to revive the infant, but were unsuccessful. Deputies took the boy to Cleveland Clinic Indian River Hospital, where he was pronounced dead, Flowers said.

“Everything we see leads us to believe this is a co-sleeping death,” Flowers previously said. “This is a warning to parents to not co-sleep with infants. We see this way too often.”

Flowers said there was a crib in the room where the two were sleeping. It was unclear if there were any other family members in the room.

The Florida Department of Children and Families was notified about the boy’s death, Flowers said. It was unclear how long the family was staying at the center.

Samaritan Center has day case managers on site all day to help families develop life skills. It was unknown if the center regularly checked on rooms at the building.

Deputies did not suspect any negligence on the part of the center. The center, part of the Catholic Charities Diocese of Palm Beach, provides its clients with several services including housing, employment counseling, financial management, parenting classes, educational workshops and more.

It was unclear if charges would be filed in the case.

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