“The manufacturing of meth involves a lot of chemicals that kids aren't usually exposed to and shouldn’t be,” said Dr. Amanda Dove, at the Medical Associates of Rogersville.
A seven-year-old was brought to a Hawkins County medical center on Friday complaining of respiratory problems. A relative of the child told the physician the child had allegedly been exposed to methamphetamine manufacturing.
The doctor then tipped off the Hawkins County Sheriff’s Department.“We're trying to be aggressive with meth. But when you put a defenseless seven year old child in it, we go above and beyond,” said Chad Gillenwater, the lieutenant over the narcotics unit.
Gillenwater said Tracey Gibson was living in a camper trailer at the Greenland Campground in Church Hill. According to the police report, the child’s mother, Christy Kilgore, had spent several nights at the camper. Gillenwater said Kilgore admitted to deputies that the girl slept on the couch one night while she and other people were snorting pills and meth.
Deputies said they found components of a meth lab in plain sight outside the camper including empty pseudoephedrine boxes and stripped lithium batteries lying in a burn pile along with a bag of ammonia nitrate. There was also a homemade anhydrous ammonia gas generate with a hose running from it, which is what the seven-year old told narcotics deputies.“She described it to the narcotics officers as a can or jug with a hose coming out of it. And a smell,” Gillenwater said.
Gillenwater and Dove said meth fumes can be extremely dangerous, even fatal to young children. "They can develop not only respiratory problems, but also long-term problems. Plus, they can get burns from chemicals, developmental problems, cancers, liver damage, kidney damage,” according to Dove.
She said looking for warning signs of kids exposed to drugs, like meth, wasn’t exactly in the textbooks of medical school.“This is a growing problem. It wasn't something that was focused on intensely,” Dove said.“But we're trained to look at the child as someone who is a victim and can't tell me 'hey this is what's happening around me.'"
Both Gibson and Kilgore face several charges including aggravated child endangerment. Gibson is also facing several drug charges including initiating the process of manufacturing methamphetamine, maintaining a dwelling where narcotics are housed or sold and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Gillenwater said deputies found other items used to make meth such as coffee filters, a bag of drain cleaner, mason jars, and several syringes. Deputies also found a plate containing meth residue, a glass vile containing meth residue, lithium batteries and synthetic marijuana.
The seven-year-old and another child were taken into the state’s custody by the Department of Children's Services. Kilgore faces public intoxication charges after being arrested at the court hearing regarding custody of her children. Gillenwater said Kilgore was extremely intoxicated on medication.
The property manager at the Greenland Campground said Gibson did not own that camper. The campground was closed for the winter and he was the only one who had permission to be on the property.
What is Hawkins County coming to? These people need to pay!