Drowning confirmed as cause of toddler death

Drowning confirmed as cause of toddler deathBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

The Kern County Coroner’s Office released its findings on Monday, Dec. 17, regarding the death of Ridgecrest toddler Aydan Whitehead-McGowen.

A postmortem examination confirms that he was drowned and that the manner was homicide. Aydan died just shy of his second birthday.

The suspect, his 20-year-old mother Jordan Whitehead, was arrested in July when she called 911 after reportedly finding him unresponsive in the bathtub. Aydan was transported to Ridgecrest Regional Hospital.

When local doctors were unable to resuscitate him, he was transferred to Loma Linda University Hospital where he died.

Whitehead was released, but the Ridgecrest Police Department determined probable cause for foul play and continued to investigate the matter.

Then in August she was arrested for an unrelated assault charge in Bakersfield. While she was incarcerated, police completed their investigation and charged her with second-degree murder and willful cruelty to a child.

This was Whitehead’s second such abuse charge. In early 2017 both she and her then partner Joshua McGowen were arrested on child cruelty charges, to which they pled no contest. She has an older child, who was placed in protective custody.

According to an interview from jail, Whitehead said that she found Aydan unresponsive and started to panic because she didn’t know infant CPR. She said she attempted it anyway for some 30 minutes before calling 911.

“It was an accident,” she said. “Accidents happen, and I don’t want to spend the rest of my life in jail for something I didn’t do.”

According to RPD, investigators developed probable cause during the initial investigation to arrest Whitehead and further investigate the matter.

Whitehead’s bail is set at $1 million, and she has a scheduled preliminary hearing in Bakersfield on Jan. 17.

Story First Published: 2018-12-21