CHICAGO — It was a call to police from a concerned Lyft driver that reportedly played a part in leading officers to interrupting what they suspect was a drowning in progress.
Jeremiah Campbell, 29, is charged with attempted murder, child endangerment, and violating an order of protection in connection to a 2021 case.
According to court documents filed in Cook County, a Lyft driver called police right after he dropped off a man and child — now identified as Campbell and his son — in the 7700 block of S. South Shore Drive. The driver told authorities he was concerned with what the father was reportedly saying on the ride to the location.
A Chicago Police Department arrest report said the driver told police Campbell was talking about conspiracies and drowning his son as a sacrifice to Jehovah.
It was around the same time that 911 call was made, that an arrest report shows an anonymous call was made from someone at that same address, who said his two-year-old son drowned in the tub.
“It was just awful. It was just awful,” said Tonya, who was visiting a family member the night of the incident. She recalls what she describes as piercing screams, as she was alerted to the commotion.
A CPD arrest report said officers arrived on scene and knocked twice, but nobody answered. They were able to peek inside the window and allegedly saw a man bending over the bathtub, making suspicious movements.
Based on information CPD received from dispatch, provided by both the Lyft driver and the anonymous caller, court documents reveal the officers had enough information to believe they were witnessing a possible drowning, and forced their way inside.
The suspect heard the commotion and removed the child from the bathtub, according to the arrest report. Coughs could be heard coming from the toddler as Campbell pulled him out.
“They brought the child out and he was just drenched and coughing,” said Tonya. “The thought that ran through my head; I just saw my grandson. It was just awful.”
According to police, a responding officer grabbed the child and handed him off to paramedics, who rushed him to the hospital. The suspect was placed into custody and taken to a local hospital for a mental health evaluation.
According to court records, Campbell violated an order of protection related to a 2021 case where he pleaded guilty to aggravated battery resulting in great bodily harm and domestic battery resulting in bodily harm.
He was sentenced to 36 months probation in Nov. 2021, records show.
No updates have been provided on the condition of the toddler.
Neighbor Chris Beasley only heard about the allegations for the first time as WGN-TV spoke with him Tuesday. He said he is shocked and saddened to hear about what authorities said happened.
“It’s not a good feeling to know that someone could have potentially killed their own child,” said Beasley. “I have kids myself and I never would even want to put that type of thought in my head.”
Beasley and others WGN-TV spoke with said they are grateful the Lyft driver trusted his gut instincts and alerted police when he felt something was off.
“I know me, personally I would have done the same thing. It’s better to say something and nothing’s behind it, than you know, to not say something and something bad happens,” Beasley added.
A spokesperson for Lyft shared a statement with WGN-TV, which reads, “We applaud the quick thinking and courage of the Lyft driver who reported the suspicious rider behavior to the authorities. This act of responsibility helped lead to the rescue of a child from immediate danger. The rider’s account has been permanently removed from the Lyft platform, and we stand ready to assist law enforcement with their investigation.”
The suspect is being held without bail at the Cook County Jail.