Nebraska midwife charged after at-home birth ends in tragedy

Friday, July 5, 2019

An Omaha woman was arrested on felony charges Wednesday after overseeing a birth as a midwife that resulted in the death of the baby, authorities said.

Angela Hock was charged with negligent child abuse resulting in death after she attempted to deliver a breech baby at a woman's home last month, according to court documents.

Medics were dispatched to the Omaha home on June 15 when they found the mother, 25-year-old Emily Noe, still in labor with Hock holding the partially-delivered baby, according to an incident report from Omaha Police.

The baby was partially delivered in the breech position, meaning the bottom half of its body was delivered first, according to the report. Hock allegedly asked the medics for medical scissors when they arrived on the scene.

Once given the scissors, Hock performed an "obstetrical procedure of the peritoneum," a membrane in the abdominal cavity, to see if she could deliver the head of the baby, but the procedure did not help, according to a court affidavit.

"The baby was eventually delivered by squad personnel while in route to the emergency room. The baby was limp and had no respirations or pulse," according to the affidavit. "Resuscitation efforts were performed at that time. The baby was taken to the Newborn Intensive Care Unit upon arrival at the hospital and placed on life support."

The newborn, a baby girl named Vera, was removed from life support two days later, according to the affidavit. Doctors said the baby had been "deprived of oxygen for approximately 10 to 12 minutes during the time that Hock attempted this delivery without medical assistance," according to incident report.

Dr. Katherine Lessman, the OB-GYN on call at the hospital when Noe arrived, said the woman told her that she'd been in labor for 24 hours, according to the affidavit.

Noe told Lessman that she realized the baby was breech a few hours before medics arrived, according to the affidavit. She said Hock told her that she'd been trained in delivering breech babies, which helped her decide to proceed with the at-home birth. After at least 30 minutes of attempting birth, Hock realized that she couldn't deliver the child and advised her to call 911, according to court documents.

The Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services said Hock does not hold a medical certification or license in the state to be a practicing midwife, according to police.

Noe said she paid Hock in the range of $3,000 to $4,000 to retain her services, according to the affidavit.

Lessman, the OB-GYN on-call, said the baby's death could have been prevented "had appropriate medical care been provided in a timely manner," according to the affidavit, and "the medical steps taken by Hock were performed negligently."

Joann Floyd, grandmother of the deceased infant, spoke with CNN affiliate WOWT.

"I am absolutely outraged," she said. "I have a beautiful granddaughter that we just buried at Omaha National Cemetery in a tiny little casket; and my heart is broken, and my daughter's heart is broken, and my son-in-law's heart is broken, and we're all heartbroken. This is a beautiful baby."

Authorities said Hock turned herself in on Tuesday and was awaiting a court appearance. She could face as many as 20 years in prison if convicted as charged.

ABC News' Cheryl Gendron contributed to this report.