Mom threatened to drive into water before setting car on fire with tot inside, authorities say

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Thursday, May 21, 2020

Caylin Watson is charged with attempted murder, first-degree arson, third-degree arson, and abuse of great bodily injury.

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) -- A new police report claims a woman was threatening her child and her child’s father before setting her car on fire, putting her baby in critical condition.

Columbia police say the child’s mother, Caylin Watson, intentionally set her car on fire with her baby still inside. It happened Sunday along I-126 near Greystone Boulevard.

The baby was airlifted to the Augusta Burn Center in critical condition. Watson was briefly hospitalized but is now in jail facing numerous charges in the incident.

Watson has been denied bond.

On Wednesday, the Richland County Sheriff’s Department released a new report saying the baby’s father came to them concerned right before the fire was set.

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It says the man claimed he was at Watson’s house earlier in the day Sunday when she got angry and came at him with a knife.

The man told deputies he took the knife from her and tried to leave. Before he could, he said Watson threw flower pots at the car he was in, cracking the windshield.

The car he was in belongs to his current girlfriend, he told deputies.

As he tried to drive away, he claims Watson got into her car -- with their 14-month-old baby -- and rammed his girlfriend’s vehicle.

The man told deputies he left and went straight to the sheriff’s department. Deputies took a report, along with pictures of the car and the knife.

But soon the man went back to RCSD, saying Watson contacted him saying she was “just going to drive off into the water.”

The baby was still with her and the child’s father was concerned.

Deputies pinged Watson’s cell phone, which showed she was near Columbia River Front Park. But when they tried to find her she wasn’t there.

After pinging her phone a second time, deputies said it appeared she had returned to her house.

As deputies were heading to Watson’s house to check on her and the child, Columbia police alerted them that they found her and the baby because her car was on fire on I-126.

Police said Watson and the baby both “smelled strongly of accelerant” and had severe burns.

They were both rushed to the hospital, and the baby was then airlifted to the Augusta Burn Center.

At last check, authorities said the 14-month-old in in critical condition.

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