Ocean County Prosecutor Bradley D. Billhimer announced that on June 4, 2021, Chaya Shurkin, 27, of Lakewood, pled guilty to Endangering the Welfare of a Child in violation of N.J.S.A. 2C:24-4a(2), before the Honorable Wendel E. Daniels, P.J.Cr.P. At the time of her sentencing on July 23, 2021, the State will recommend that Judge Daniels sentence Shurkin to a term of probation.
On May 6, 2019, Officers from the Lakewood Township Police Department responded to a residence in Lakewood for a report of a child in distress. Life-saving measures were performed on the child at the scene, and the child was then transported to Monmouth Medical Center Southern Campus in Lakewood. The child later expired at the hospital and was pronounced deceased.
An investigation by the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, and Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, revealed that Shurkin, the child’s mother, had left the child alone in her motor vehicle for approximately two-and-one-half hours with the car turned off, in the heat. The Ocean County Medical Examiner confirmed that the cause of the child’s death was exposure to increased environmental temperatures. The manner of death was determined to be accidental.
“Sadly, the loss of this child was totally avoidable. Ms. Shurkin lost a child as a consequence of her own inattention; this is a burden she must carry with her for the rest of her life, which amounts to a far greater punishment than any sentence the State could possibly recommend to a Court,” Prosecutor Billhimer stated. “It should be noted that the State’s recommendation for probation is consistent with the manner in which the majority of these dreadful types of cases have been handled in Ocean County, as well as throughout this state and nation, and it represents an acknowledgement that the loss of a child – under these horrific circumstances – is tantamount to a life-sentence in and of itself,” Prosecutor Billhimer concluded.
Prosecutor Billhimer commends the diligent efforts of Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Christine Lento who handled the case on behalf of the State, as well as the Ocean County Prosecutor’s Office Major Crime Unit, Lakewood Township Police Department, Ocean County Sheriff’s Office Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and the State and Ocean County Medical Examiner’s Office, for their collective assistance in connection with this very thorough and comprehensive investigation, ultimately resulting in today’s guilty plea.