Tears and anger came from both the family of a daycare worker accused of abusing a baby and the victim’s parents during a bond hearing.
Lona Thomas, 51, made her first appearance in court on Friday as a Myrtle Beach municipal judge set her bond at $7,500.
“All that he is going through is so hard,” the victim’s mother said.
“That woman loved children. She is well-loved,” said Thomas’ friend Ronetta Washington.
Myrtle Beach police arrested Thomas on Thursday and charged her with infliction of great bodily injury upon a child. She faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Police say the investigation started Nov. 1 after an unresponsive infant was found at the Busy Bodies Child Care Center at 306 Highway 15. The 7-month-old victim is in critical condition at the hospital, according to the department.
The abuse happened while Thomas was feeding the baby, officials said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the department at 843-918-1382.
Thomas said she has watched children for more than 20 years and has no criminal history. Several of Thomas’ relatives and friends were in the courtroom, and a couple put their arms around each other and cried during the hearing.
Washington said Thomas helped raise her children, grandchildren and other youngsters in the Racepath area. Thomas also worked at an assisted care facility.
Thomas tried to provide CPR to the baby when the infant was unresponsive, her daughter, Tiara Thomas, told the court.
“We all are hurting,” Washington said. “She tried to save someone’s life, an infant’s life.”
Family and friends questioned why officers arrested Lona Thomas, and Tiara Thomas called it a lazy police investigation. She said her mom visited the police station for several interviews before she was cuffed.
“She’s not a bad person,” Tiara Thomas said.
The victim’s mother, who could barely speak through her tears during the hearing, declined to comment as she left the courtroom.