Living in a meth house; children risk permanent damage
The dangers are many; chemical burns, lung damage, even stunted physical, mental and emotional development.
Story by Gordon Boyd
Eyewitness News Reporter
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- By curb appeal alone, the house at 1007 East Dallas Road fits right in among North Chattanooga's Cottages at Knickerbocker, where Tracey Carisch makes her home.
"I could hit a seven iron and hit that house," she says.
"It's a little scary--we've got 24 little kids living on our street."
After raiding 1007 East Dallas Tuesday, police have charged Joseph Aucoin, 31 and Ryan Ashley Collar, 25, with Initiating the Manufacture of Methamphetamine.
The raid began as a check on the welfare of a 5-year-old boy. Child Protective Services has placed the boy in state foster care. His guardian, Daniel Hixon, 26, is charged with child endangerment.
"We see probably two to three kids a month who have been meth-exposed," says Dr. Thomas Bruns, a pediatric emergency physician at Thompson Children's Hospital.
"You're exposed to all sorts of toxins, solvents and chemicals that can affect your brain, your growth, your kidneys, your lungs.
Less than a minute's exposure to meth fumes can affect breathing, irritate your eyes, and cause dizziness and nausea.
But beyond that, Dr.Bruns says, children are likely to fall victim to neglect when a meth house is home.
"The area where this (meth cooking) is occurring is usually very filthy, often with food on the ground and rat infestation," he says.
"The cooks just focus on making that meth and making that money," Royval says. "They lose sight of what's important."
Dr. Bruns has dealt with children who are almost feral.
"Often they have some kind of attachment disorder; they've had to fend for themselves," he says. "They've not been loved, nor cared for in that environment."
Private laws prevent Child Protective Services from describing the condition of the boy taken from 1007 East Dallas. It's not clear whether a relative has petitioned for, or would qualify to obtain, custody of him.
The developments have prompted Tracey Carisch to be more watchful of her neighborhood, and of her own three children.
"If anything it makes you more aware, " she says.
"If something seems a little odd and you let it go before, we'll be more likely to take it seriously."