Sudden death still haunts her

Woman warns against letting babies sleep in parents’ beds.
Tom Jackson
Dec 27, 2013


Jennifer Spurlock still has nightmares about the terrible day two years ago when she and a boyfriend found their baby dead in the bed with them.

She has a message for parents who think it’s convenient to have their baby sleep next to them: Don’t do it.

“I want his death to save somebody else’s baby,” said Spurlock, 24, referring to the death of Cameron Coleman, who was 7 weeks old.

“It just pretty much ruined my entire life” said Spurlock, who has received treatment for depression. “Since my son died, my life has been hell. I can’t seem to put it together”

Spurlock said she found it convenient to let Cameron sleep next to her because she put a pacifier in his mouth to quiet him.

“No matter how much it’s convenient for you, don’t let him sleep with you,” she said.

On Dec. 27, 2011, Spurlock, a Sandusky native who still lives here, remembers sleeping with her boyfriend, Eris Coleman, with Cameron between them. She got up to use the bathroom.

When she returned, she asked Coleman to move the baby over so she would have room to get back into bed.

The couple realized something was wrong. It became more horrifying when Spurlock turned on the light. The baby had blood on his nose and his eyes were partially open.

Cameron was rushed to Firelands Regional Medical Center, but doctors could not save him.

“Everything he had for Christmas, we had to take back and use the money for the funeral” Spurlock said.

She said she wants to tell the community she hasn’t forgotten the donations people made so her son could have a decent funeral.

“I appreciate every donation” she said.

It wasn’t the end of Spurlock’s troubles. Three weeks after the death, Eris Coleman was sent to prison for aggravated assault, drug possession and drug trafficking. He’s currently being held at a state prison in Mansfield, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.

A police investigation found no indication of foul play, no sign the baby was abused and no evidence the parents were intoxicated. An autopsy listed the manner of death as “Undetermined — death with co-sleeping with parents” Spurlock said she phoned Erie County’s coroner, Brian Baxter, who told her the baby was apparently smothered but that authorities can’t determine exactly what happened.

“His nose was bleeding. That means lack of oxygen,” she said.

Pete Schade, Erie County’s health commissioner, said the department continues to try to warn everyone about co-sleeping. Health educators and nurses at the department try to raise the issue with every prenatal patient and WIC mom who walks through the doors, he said.

He said safe sleep also is often brought up at staff meetings. “It’s a constant conversation we have” he said. Spurlock said she decided to speak out to warn other parents about the danger of co-sleeping.

“People think it will never happen to them,” she said. “I want his death to save somebody else’s baby”



My heart and prayers go out to you and your family. I think it is great what you are doing and commend you on your strength and courageous power to be able to tell your story to others in hopes of changing what could be a tragedy for someone else. This story is extremely sad, but valuable to all of you young mothers. Listen to jennifers story. And once again I commend your bravery and I hope things get brighter for your future


This story upsets me. You killed your child, because you were to lazy to get out of bed and comfort your newborn when he was crying (which is part of being a new mother). Then, you accept donations for your lack of common sense and laziness, because it was "convenient" for you to have him in the same bed?! Unbelievable!


You do realize that there are some "experts", countries, and cultures that use this method to raise children? That just because it is not YOUR way it is not illegal, wrong or stupid. One "expert" or one persons reason does not make it stupid. There are many people that do, do it. Sometimes accidents happen. Sometimes it goes wrong, horribly wrong. Do you tell a mother who wore high heels and fell down a flight of stairs while pregnant she killed her child too? I mean she should have known better, right? Accidents are accidents. What if she had brought the baby to bed to feed him a bottle and accidentally fell asleep? That is an accident.
I am truly sorry for the loss of the child. No mother should have to bury or lose a child.


It's not an accident if it could have been avoided! If she was tired, she shouldn't have got back into bed to feed him. Once again, it was convenient. I am sorry the baby died and no mother should have to bury a child, but she was the mother. It was her responsibility to care for her son, safely.


Of course it was an accident.


Obviously she knows it was wrong. She is doing a commendable thing here in educating the public. Why not back off a little! She already suffered here and admitted she killed her child by accident, don't be totally heartless!


Jennifer, you will never have to face a harder thing in your life than burying a baby. I know. I've been there. My heart goes out to you.


To YouDontSay....It would seem in this case that your ignorance (and arrogance) is showing here on many levels..for one the article never stated she got back into bed to feed the baby, or even had him in the bed for that reason. Perhaps the use of the word "accident" from others on here wasnt appropriate and the word "mistake" should of been said, because thats simply what this was..a poor mistake in judgment made by a new young mother. I dont know if you have children, but if you do and you yourself can say you never made a mistake or a poor judgment call in the rearing of your child(ren) then I pity your children, as it must of been absolute he!! living in a household with someone so perfect. It would seem you tend to live more with the thought that only your opinion and decisions are important enough to matter than anyone elses, and there is another reason I pity your children because MAKING MISTAKES in life and learning from them is a great tool in making a child grow to be a responsible adult. Take this article for what it simply is...which is the story of a young mother who made a mistake and has learned a life long lesson that unfortunately she now has to endure the heartache of for the rest of her life, missing her firstborn. Your lack of empathy here is truly a travesty, as this individual is simply trying to take an unfortunate incident in her life and turn it into something good for other young mothers to hopefully learn something and perhaps avoid the same unfortunate end. As far as the donations and your comments on that, are you going to tell me that at the tender age of 24 YOU had life insurance, that you were responsible enough to think of something like that? It would seem YouDontSay that you live in a "perfect" world...maybe the SR should do an article on you and your perfect arrogant world so that all of us can learn from that very careful tho because people like you DO have skeletons somewhere and god forbid one of your mistakes or poor decisions in life come out and another ignorant, arrogant sap like you has a field day with those and post idiotic, nonempathetic comments. The REAL travesty here and what really pi$$es me off is people like you that just has to get on here and spew ignorance and much unneeded comments that could of and should of been kept to yourself!


I know she didn't say she got back into bed, I was replying to someone else's comment. Thank you. Fine, her "mistake" killed her child. I do have several children (which my husband and I care for without government assistance, before you assume) and I never slept with one of them, because of this reason. I also never had children before I was 24, but they all are covered and taken care of. I'm glad she's going out and talking to other mother's and doing something with her life. This is a place to make comments, so that's exactly what I did.


Blueyedgrl, I couldn't agree more!! Very well stated!


41 years ago when my oldest was a baby I never gave it another thought to have him in bed with my husband and myself. We were not being lazy but enjoying the closeness of our child. I would lay him on top of me and we all slept. In hindsight, I see that I was lucky to have not rolled over on him and killed him. I would discourage anyone from putting a small baby in bed with them and running the risk of something tragic like this to happen. My prayers to the family and their little angel.


Its all ways sad when a defenseless child loses his or her life , But to have this happen when it could have been avoided if she would have been better aware .My heart goes out to the child as well as the parents , Its got to be a rough time and this close to christmas , its gotta make you think you are going to lose your mind ....


Co-sleeping is common in many cultures and very safe in general (when the adult is not drinking or taking certain drugs, is not obese or smokes, when there are not pillows, blankets, comforters, etc., that are near the child). I am sorry about this woman's loss. However, advocating that no one ever practice safe co-sleeping is not logical. How many children die in cribs each year, and yet there is no outcry over it and no one proposes doing away with cribs. If you choose to co-sleep, please educate yourself regarding the best way to ensure safety: