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Mom jailed as toddlers battle for their lives

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KANSAS CITY, KS (KCTV) -

A 23-year-old woman is in the Wyandotte County Jail as her two young children battle for their lives.

Because no charges have been filed, KCTV5 is not naming the mother, who authorities said called 911. The woman remains in jail pending the investigation into whether she tried to drown them.

Authorities told KCTV5 that they expect to present the case file to the district attorney's office later this week. Jail booking records show the mother is being held on first-degree attempted murder.

The woman's two children were rushed to the hospital after they were found unconscious inside their home Tuesday evening.

Police officer and firefighters desperately fought to revive the children, who remain in critical condition Wednesday.

Firefighters were dispatched to the home on a call that two children had nearly drowned.

But KCK police officers said they were unaware of water being involved.

Authorities are refusing to say Wednesday the circumstances in which the children were found, citing the pending investigation.

The children initially were described as infants, but police said they appear to be toddlers. The children are estimated to be 1 and 4 years old, but their exact ages aren't known.

Neighbors said the two girls lived inside the home with their mother. They said the babies' father had moved out about a month ago.

A family friend said the boyfriend knew that the woman had been battling depression issues after the birth of the youngest child, but was never anticipated she might consider harming her children. The friend said Wednesday that the boyfriend is completely stunned by the allegations.

Mary Self said she called the man to alert him to the unfolding tragedy.

"I said, 'I know she was mean to you, but do you think she'd hurt those babies?' I can't see it. He hesitated and said, 'No, I don't think so,'" Self recalled. "She seemed like a good mother when she's out with them. They say you don't know what goes on behind closed doors either."

Self said the woman had quit her job recently. With the boyfriend moving in with his father, the couple had been dealing with emotional and financial stress.

Once the first police officer arrived Tuesday evening, he immediately jumped in to help both children and provide the first aid that he could. He performed CPR on one child. Once the first firefighter arrived, resuscitation attempts began on the second child.

Authorities were able to revive one of the children at the scene.

"They finally bought out a little kid on a stretcher," neighbor Bill Shank said. "She didn't seem to be moving."

One neighbor who heard the sirens and the horrible news had thought carbon monoxide poisoning was the reason that the children were unresponsive. She said she never considered that their mother might have intentionally harmed them.

The horrifying discovery occurred about 6 p.m. Tuesday at a home in the 2900 block of South 52nd Street.

The children's mother was taken to police headquarters Tuesday night for questioning while detectives interviewed neighbors.

Detectives are continuing to investigate, KCK Officer Patrick McCallop said Tuesday night, "but at this point, it's just the mother and two juveniles" who were inside at the time of the incident.

"Our detectives are trying to figure out exactly what happened. It's unsure at this point. Our detectives are trying to find out the facts of the situation," he said.

Neighbors said a young girl was brought out in handcuffs. They said they did not believe that female was the children's mother.

However, authorities have not indicated that a second woman was involved.

The Wyandotte County District Attorney's Office issued a statement just before 1:30 p.m. Wednesday:

Please be advised that there will be nothing from the District Attorney's office today in regards to yesterday's incident involving the toddlers found in the 2900 block of South 52nd Street. Kansas City police will present the case to the district attorney tomorrow and it will be reviewed at that time.

Many area residents are praying for the girls' recovery.

"I'm praying," Shirley Guinnip said. "I hope they make it and are taken care of. This is so sad. I can't image what the babies are going through at the hospital."

KCTV5's Chris Oberholtz contributed to this report.

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