A Pennsylvania mother was arrested on five felony charges after she admitted to poisoning her two children with Visine eye drops. Samantha Elizabeth Unger confessed to putting more than a bottle of the Visine eye drop solution into her toddler’s juice and water. The three-year-old boy’s ingestion of Visine put him in serious risk of death. According to the affidavit, the woman claimed her one-year-old son fell ill twice after he accidentally drank from his brother’s cup.
Both children became sick multiple times in March. The older son’s illness became so severe that he had to be flown to Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Reportedly at one point his heart rate dropped to 40 beats per minute. After conducting several tests, doctors at Hershey Medical Center told law enforcement they believed the children were being poisoned.
According to the affidavit, an emergency medicine resident in Philadelphia told investigators that the children’s symptoms could be attributed to acute poisoning. The symptoms were so very distinct that the doctor believed they could be caused by the active ingredients in Visine, the affidavit stated.
Investigators conducted several interviews with the family and confiscated sippy cups and water bottles they believed could be making the children sick. Lab results confirmed that Tetrahydrazoline, more commonly known as Visine, was present in toxic levels in the oldest son’s urine sample which was taken during his hospital stay. Tetrahydrazoline is a chemical found in nasal sprays and eye drops and has been linked to blurred vision, seizures, difficulty breathing and when taken in large doses can even lead to a comatose state.
The 23-year-old mother is charged with two first-degree felonies; aggravated assault and aggravated assault with a victim less than 13-years-old, two counts of endangering the welfare of children and one second-degree felony for aggravated assault against a victim less than six-years-old. Lt. Frederick Hess, Gettysburg state police station commander, said the use of Visine as poison is an isolated incident and not considered a trend.
In 2012, charges were filed against Vickie Jo Mills, a Pennsylvania woman who was accused of putting eye drop solution in her boyfriend’s water. Mills was charged with 10 counts of aggravated assault, 10 counts of simple assault and 10 counts of reckless endangerment after confessing to slipping Visine eye drops into her boyfriend’s, Thurman Edgar Nesbitt III, drinking water 10 to 12 times over a three-year period.
Nesbitt had been ill for years. He suffered from multiple symptoms such as problems with breathing, blood pressure, nausea and vomiting. Dr. Harry Johnston contacted authorities after tests showed Nesbitt had 49 nanograms per milliliter of the “eye drop medication” in his system. During the investigation, Mills reportedly told police that she “never meant to kill him, she only wanted him to pay more attention to her.”
According to District Attorney Shawn Wager, Unger who now lives with family in Thurmont, Maryland, escaped charges of attempted homicide because law enforcement does not believe she intended to kill her children. Both of her children have been placed in the custody of their grandparents. Timothy Unger, the proud grandfather, said the boys are great kids and despite being poisoned by their mother are doing much better.
Samantha Elizabeth Unger was arrested on five felony charges after she admittedly poisoned her two children with Visine eye drops. The 23-year old mother confessed to putting more than a bottle of the Visine eye drop solution into her toddler’s juice and water. Unger’s bail was set for $50,000 cash at Adams County Prison. She is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing in front of Magisterial District Judge Mark Beauchat on July 24 at 11 a.m.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)