WAGNER | A crew that specializes in cleaning drug-contaminated homes is at work in a South Dakota house where authorities say a 2-year-old girl was found dead in a closet while under the care of two people on a drug binge.
Traces of methamphetamine contaminate nearly every surface in the Yankton Sioux Housing Authority home where Taylor and Laurie Cournoyer lived, Santi-Kleen Environmental Solutions official Joe Newcomb told KELO-TV (http://bit.ly/RgshOX ). Meth, which includes ingredients that are toxic, might have been manufactured at the home for years before the Cournoyers moved in, he said.
"Meth is such a monster. And then you have kids that die in (meth houses)," he said.
Authorities have conducted an autopsy on the 2-year-old girl who died in July but have not released the cause of death.
Caregivers Taylor Cournoyer, 21, and Laurie Cournoyer, 29, are accused of failing to notify police of a death in a timely manner. They also face child abuse counts related to other children who lived in the home. One of them, an 11-year-old boy, is charged in the case, but authorities have not released details of his alleged involvement because of his age.
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Authorities say the Cournoyers were using meth and other drugs when the girl died and did not report the death for nearly two days. They have pleaded not guilty.
Some people believe meth use has become rampant on the Yankton Sioux Reservation.
"We've dealt with alcoholism, with cocaine, heroin, all these other things, but this meth has them all beat," Housing Authority official Karen Archambeau said. "It's horrible."
Santi-Kleen Environmental Solutions officials wearing body suits and breathing masks are teaching local workers how to properly clean meth houses.
"I think it is very important that this be done," Archambeau said. "We have a lot of little children that are being exposed to this terrible drug, and it's so terrible because our kids don't have a chance."