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Spring Hill woman charged with neglect after 1-year-old nearly drowns

SPRING HILL — The call came into 911 at 4:38 Tuesday afternoon.

"Send someone out here," a woman yelled.

She didn't identify herself, Hernando County Sheriff's Office officials said. Then, when the operator asked for more information, the woman hung up.

"There was no mention," a report said, "of (a 1-year-old child) being face down in the backyard pool."

Emergency personnel rushed to the home at 8485 Beach Road and revived the boy, who was taken to All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg. He was listed in stable condition Wednesday.

Melinda Sue Vairo, 36, was arrested and charged with two counts of child neglect. She posted $4,000 bail and was released from the Hernando County Detention Center.

Vairo's speech was slurred and she smelled of alcohol when deputies questioned her Tuesday. Authorities say she had been drinking with her friend by the pool for several hours.

Deputies say they found nine empty bottles of Bud Light Platinum and an empty bottle of rum in the area.

Neither woman, a report says, could explain how the child fell into the pool or how long he had been floating in the water. Vairo later told detectives she had been inside the house playing with another child, a 1-year-old girl, and did not realize the little boy wasn't with her. The report did not explain her relationship to the children.

A state Department of Children and Families caseworker asked Vairo to submit to a drug screening. She refused. After determining that Vairo "was in no condition to care for the safety and wellbeing" of the children, whose names were redacted from the report, authorities removed them from the home.

In her mug shot, Vairo's brown hair is disheveled, and her eyes are nearly swollen shut. Wrapped in a white garment, she's still wearing a fluorescent hot-pink bathing suit top.

John Woodrow Cox can be reached at

Spring Hill woman charged with neglect after 1-year-old nearly drowns 04/04/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 4, 2012 7:20pm]
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