Metro-East News

Toddler undergoing skin graft surgeries to treat burns received at Belleville day care

She was told via text.

"Hey, call me ASAP. Raven wet herself so I took off her clothes to put in the washer because she didn't have any in her bag. I didn't realize the water was a little hot, and it burned her legs."

The text was sent to 2-year-old Raven Archer's mother, Marquita Hunter, from an employee at the Kolor Wheel day care the child attended in Belleville. Hunter immediately called the employee, later identified as 36-year-old Shiquetta Williams.

"What do you mean it burned her legs?" Hunter asked. She asked if the burns were bad enough that Raven needed to go to the hospital. Williams told her no, Hunter said.

Hunter arrived at the day care and saw that her daughter's legs, butt and back were pink and blistered. Williams reportedly didn't call 911, so emergency responders weren't called until nearly a half hour later, once Hunter got to the day care, she said. Raven was rushed to Cardinal Glennon Childen's Hospital in St. Louis with blistering second- and third-degree burns across the lower half of her body.

Shiquetta Williams Provided

"The nerves on her legs were burned, and doctors said it might take six months to a year to get them back," Hunter said. "We'll have to teach her how to walk all over again, do potty training all over again ... We basically have to start all over."

Williams was charged Friday with reckless conduct causing great bodily harm in connection with Raven's injuries. Police said Raven appeared to have been immersed in a bathtub of hot water.

"It's horrible. How do you not know to call 911, how do you not know the water was hot? She said 'I didn't check,'" Hunter said. "You can see steam, you can feel the heat rising in the bathroom."

Raven had a skin graft surgery Tuesday, the second of five she needs. The toddler is restless and in "excruciating" pain, her mom said. She cries all night, and doctors are hesitant to give her too much morphine because of her small size.

Raven Archer, 2, with her parents. Provided

Doctors transferred Raven to Shriners Hospitals for Children in Cincinnati, where the burn unit was better suited to treat Raven's extensive injuries. Nearly 10 days after she was burned, she remained hospitalized.

As Raven grows, she'll continue to have skin graft surgeries, Hunter said, as it doesn't grow as readily as ungrafted skin.

"It's like this is a bad dream," Hunter said. "But she's holding up. She's a fighter."

The owner of Kolor Wheel voluntarily ceased operations, Department of Child and Family Services spokesperson Alissandra Calderon said March 15. DCFS' was investigating allegations of neglect at the day care and noted the case was pending.

Williams posted bond and was no longer in the St. Clair County Jail as of Wednesday evening. Belleville police did not respond for further comment Wednesday evening.

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics show that more than 700,000 children are referred to child protective agencies as a result of abuse or neglect in the U.S. each year. According to Purva Grover, M.D., a pediatric eme