Police: Child calls 911 after mom passes out drunk

A city woman was arrested after her toddler called 911 while she was passed out from drinking, city police announced Thursday.

Sarah C. Haberstroh, 34, of 80 Clinton Ave., Apt. A, was arrested when police discovered her unconscious and alone with her three young girls, said Lt. David Guerrera.

At about 11 p.m. Wednesday, the Cortland County 911 Center received a call from Haberstroh’s apartment and dispatched city officers to the home, according to police.

“We responded to a 911-hang up call,” said Guerrera. “When we get there, she’s unconscious and the kids are all bawling.”

Haberstroh was caring for her three girls — ages four, two and one — when she drank so much alcohol she passed out for a prolonged period of time, police said.

Guerrera noted he believes it was the four-year-old who called 911, adding he is impressed and surprised the young girl knew how to call for help.

When police arrived and roused Haberstoh, she punched an officer and fought against those arresting her, according to the department. The officer was uninjured in the struggle, Guerrera said.

“It took two officers to get her into handcuffs,” Guerrera said.

Police contacted a family member and turned the toddlers over to that person’s care, he said.

Haberstroh was charged with endangering the welfare of a child and resisting arrest, both misdemeanors, as well as second-degree harassment, a violation. She was taken to the City Police Department where she remained in custody until her arraignment at 11 a.m. Thursday. Afterwards, Haberstroh was released and scheduled to reappear on March 6 in City Court.

Child maltreatment in Cortland County

Cortland County has a greater percentage of children facing abuse and maltreatment than the rest of Upstate and even the rest of the state, according to the 2019 Cortland Counts Community Health Assessment by the Seven Valleys Health Coalition. In Cortland County, 31 percent of children are abused or maltreated, while 24 percent of Upstate kids and 29 percent of children throughout the state face the same mistreatment.

Drinking in Cortland

Alcohol abuse in Cortland County results in half as many hospitalizations as compared to the state, but a significant percentage of adults report binge drinking in the last month, according to the 2019-2024 Cortland County Health Assessment and Improvement Plan. “In Cortland County, 14.6% of adults report binge drinking during the last month compared to 19.1 in NYS excluding NYC,” according to the report published in December 2019.  

The Center for Disease Control defines binge drinking as consuming enough alcohol to raise one’s blood-alcohol content above 0.08 percent, which usually requires consuming four to five drinks within two hours.

Binge drinking was the cause of adult deaths in Cortland County for the first time in 2018, according to the County Health Department’s annual report. There were two deaths in 2018 because of alcohol overdosing, the most recent report notes.