Child welfare

Miami-Dade mom of tot who died in hot car has DUI history

 

cmarbin@MiamiHerald.com

It wasn’t the first time Catalina Marista Bruno had been accused of endangering her infant son. But it will be the last.

Bryan Miguel Osceola, a month short of his first birthday, died when his mom drove home in her 2013 Chevy Impala, exited the car, walked inside the house and stayed there, leaving an unattended Bryan baking in the back seat of the vehicle, strapped into his car seat, police said.

Six months earlier, state troopers found Bruno passed out drunk in the front seat of her Ford Explorer just before midnight, with her son beside her, according to the arrest report. Bryan’s head was wedged between the front seats. They charged Bruno with driving while intoxicated and child neglect.

The latest charge is aggravated manslaughter of a child. She was jailed on Friday, a day after her son was declared dead. Her bond was set at $10,000.

“At this point, the only thing that we know is that obviously this was a family tragedy. We’re still investigating the facts of the unfortunate death of a minor child,” Frank Gaviria, the mother’s attorney, told NBC6.

The Department of Children & Families also has a history with Bruno, spokeswoman Alexis Lambert confirmed, although details of that history were not made available Friday.

Miami-Dade police did not say Friday whether Bruno was impaired by drugs or alcohol when she left Bryan in her car to die. But she has a track record. Of her five arrests before the latest incident, Bruno had faced drug or alcohol charges on three occasions: a 2007 disorderly intoxication and battery arrest, a 2009 cocaine possession arrest and the arrest six months ago.

It was Bryan’s father, not his mother, who noticed his absence. Amos Osceola ran out of the home in the 1000 block of Southwest 150th Place, found Bryan in the sweltering car and removed the youngster, who was not responsive and had a body temperature of 109. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue took him to Kendall Regional Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Bryan is the second child nationwide this year to die in a closed, hot car, said Janette Fennell, founder and president of KidsAndCars.org, a nonprofit child safety group. On average, 38 children die each year after being left in hot cars, Fennell said.

“If you have the ability to forget your keys, you have the ability to forget your child,” Fennell said. “It’s absolutely the worst mistake anyone can make, and everyone thinks it won’t happen to them.”

On Nov. 3, Bruno was arrested by the Florida Highway Patrol when a trooper found the 30-year-old passed out behind the wheel of her SUV near Krome Avenue. The vehicle’s transmission was in the “drive” position.

Bruno, the report said, “had a strong odor of alcoholic beverage coming from her breath.”

That time the child was not hurt.

Friday evening, administrators with DCF were unwilling to reveal the state’s past involvement with Bruno and her husband.

Few of the Osceola family’s neighbors wished to discuss the infant’s death.

One neighbor, 71-year-old Nancy Cowley, said “I don’t know what happened to the parents to let this happen.”

Said 19-year-old Danny Machin, another neighbor: “It [stinks] that a 1-year-old had to die like that.”

Miami Herald writer Gina Cherelus contributed to this report.

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