Local authorities explain the law after girl dies when aunt is too afraid to her medical help

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -  

The death of a two year old girl raises questions about what could have been done to prevent it.

The girl's guardian is said to have refused to get her medical help because she was afraid of being deported.

A two year old girl died in Bakersfield in September from what police say was a skull fracture.

Police reports state the girl suffered for more than a month before dying.

The girl’s aunt, Wendy Gomez, was watching her while her mom was in Mexico and refused to take the girl to the hospital because she was undocumented.

"Wendy would tell us that she was waiting on some card from her sister to actually take her to the hospital because Wendy didn't have papers. She didn't want them to take the girls away from her so that was her excuse for not taking them to the hospital," explained a family friend who asked not to be identified.

"They should not be concerned if they are a US citizen or not we don't investigate our reporting parties,” said Antanette Reed, the assistant director of child protective services.

23ABC spoke to a local attorney who says when it comes to medical care for an undocumented person the law is clear.

"They have an ethical and legal duty to treat that person regardless if they are an immigrant, legal, illegal, a citizen whoever it might be," said criminal defense attorney Jared Thompson.

Even though family and friends pleaded with Gomez to get medical help, police say none of them actually called authorities themselves.

"Simply telling someone to take a child to the doctor if they sense that they need medical care usually is not enough," Reed said.

Even if Gomez had taken the girl to the hospital and was eventually arrested, the attorney 23ABC spoke to say a child abuse charge would have been a lot better than the second degree murder charge Gomez faces now.

"Her culpability from a criminal standpoint looks a lot worse when she doesn't do what she should have," Thompson said.

Child protective services say you should always speak up if you think a child may be abused or neglected.

You can call their 24 hour hotline at 631-6011.

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