Toddler drowns in Hattiesburg; parents arrested and charged

Thirty-three-year-old Lauren Schmidt (pictured) has been charged with child neglect after her 2-year-old daughter, Alyssa Moore, drowned in Black Creek on April 1. The child's acting father, Steven Moore, has also been charged.

A WDAM report

HATTIESBURG – Steven Moore is the second person charged after a 2-year-old girl drowned in Black Creek Sunday night. Moore, 45, was arrested Tuesday on child neglect charges stemming from the death of Alyssa Moore.

Nick Calico, an investigator with the Forrest County Sheriff’s Department, said evidence collected during interviews led to the charges against Moore, who is also being held on a probation violation.

Forrest County Sheriff’s deputies arrested Alyssa’s mother, 33-year-old Lauren Schmidt of Hattiesburg, late Sunday night following her release from Forrest General Hospital, where she was taken and treated for shock following the incident.

Authorities said Schmidt told investigators that she left Alyssa with two juveniles to tend to her other, younger child, during the family outing.

“What we’re being told is the child was playing in the area on the sandbar by the water and the adults were down there back and forth between there and underneath the bridge,” said Calico. “That’s still part of the investigation, to find out who was there with the child at that time because there were so many people back and forth with the child.”

Moore is not Alyssa’s biological child, but has been acting as her father.

The investigation is ongoing, but authorities said it appears to have been an accidental drowning that happened at approximately 5 p.m. on April 1.

The toddler’s body was recovered three hours later about a quarter mile downstream from where she was last seen playing.

In WDAM footage, Schmidt can be seen being helped out of a rescue boat, soaking wet, after frantically swimming the creek in search of her daughter after she disappeared in the water.

Authorities said the tragedy occured during a family gathering near the lower bridge at Brooklyn and relatives noticed Alyssa was missing only after a few minutes.

“We’re still investigating whether alcohol or anything else was a contributing factor in the incident,” Calico said.

Schmidt was released from jail Monday morning on $2,500 bond. Moore’s bond was also set at $2,500.

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