Only on CBS 19: Cherokee County toddler suffers severe burns, CPS investigating

CHEROKEE COUNTY (KYTX) - A 3-year-old Cherokee County boy is in the hospital recovering from third degree burns.

Cherokee County Sheriff's investigators and Child Protective Services want to know how the toddler suffered such severe burns.

CBS 19's Anthony Austin spoke exclusively with the child's mother just a few hours after it all happened.

"He's just so intelligent and so smart," said Lupita Alegria.

Lupita Alegria said she was cleaning her home while her three-year-old son, Patrick Long Junior, was in another room.

"He came out running to me, crying, mommy, mommy, I'm on fire, it hurts," said Alegria.

The 23-year-old said her son found a lighter in the room and accidentally set his shirt on fire.

"I started patting him and patting the fire to try and get it to come out. It seems like as one spot came out, another would start. I was so frantic, I didn't know what to do," said Alegria.

Alegria said she did not call 911. Instead, she called the child's grandfather.

"I wanted to wait for my father in law. Because I wanted that moral support," said Alegria.

While she waited for her father-in-law to arrive at their Cherokee County home, Alegria said she tried to lessen her son's pain.

"I did everything I possibly could have done in my knowledge. Clean the wound, put cold rag on him, put an ice pack on top and I took him to the emergency room as soon as my father-in-law got home," said Alegria.

When the mother and son arrived at East Texas Medical Center in Jacksonville, the boy was rushed into the arms of a doctor. He was later taken to another hospital.

His mother was not allowed to go with him .

"It was heart wrenching because I had to sit there and watch him in pain and it just hurt so bad," said Alegria.

Instead, Lupita was questioned by sheriff's investigators and child protective services.

"She took my baby away from me and said that my home was unsuitable for children," said Alegria.

CBS 19 called CPS to find out why the boy was taken from his mother.

"We want to make sure children at this age are supervised. If a child is able to burn himself, we're concerned about the supervision in that home," said Shari Pulliam.

Shari Pulliam with CPS says Patrick is slowly recovering from his injuries.

"He's going to have some healing to do. Some medical procedures to go through once he's released from the hospital," added Pulliam.

How Patrick was burned is still under investigation. His mother said it was just a mistake and wants her son to return home.

"I just have to sit here and look at their stuff and wish they were home with me, but they can't be," said Alegria.

Shari Pulliam with Child Protective Services said there was also a nine-month-old girl in the home. She has been placed in foster care.

When Patrick is able to leave from the hospital, he will be placed with the same foster family. 

We're told Patrick's father was in the hospital at the time for an unrelated issue.

We do know the Cherokee County sheriff's office took pictures of the home where the child was burned.



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