Drowned baby’s grandparents plead for post-partum depression instruction

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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The parents of a Granite Bay woman who drowned her newborn daughter in a sink pleaded with the Placer County Board of Supervisors for pre-natal education on post-partum depression. A Placer County judge determined last month that Kristina Fuelling, 27, was legally insane when she drowned her 8-day-old daughter in the bathroom sink of her Granite Bay home. She had initially faced a murder charge. Lincoln residents Dennis and Carolynn Luchay told supervisors that more education before birth could prevent similar incidents in the future by alerting parents-to-be to the possibility of post-partum depression or even psychosis, like the kind that afflicted their daughter. Dennis Luchay said one possibility would be handing out cards to expectant parents, with information on symptoms and a hotline number to call for help. “Placer County has no department for post-partum depression in mental health,” he said. “You need to provide help for the community.” The couple received support from Supervisor Kirk Uhler, who said his wife had post-partum depression symptoms and sought out help. Uhler said that while medical facilities pay attention to a mother-to-be’s condition during pregnancy and during birthing, he recalled no instruction on post-partum depression. “Just a brief conversation with folks” on signs to watch out for on possible post-pregnancy depression side effect would be a major benefit, he said. Nicholas Fuelling, Kristina’s husband, also wanted to speak during the public comment period of Tuesday’s board meeting but was unable to attend the meeting because he had just started a new job, Dennis Luchay said. Kristina Fuelling remains in custody and will be placed in a prison psychiatric care facility. When she is judged mentally fit, she’ll be transferred to a state prison to serve the rest of a minimum six-year sentence. The sentence is related to an attempt to smother the girl two days before her daughter’s death. That initial incident was halted when her husband entered the room. Her daughter’s death occurred late at night while her husband slept. Two of Kristina Fuellings’ long-time Granite Bay neighbors also attended Tuesday’s session. Joan Hudson said that Kristina Fuelling was a quiet child but the most helpful of the Luchays’ four children. “All we could do was rejoice,’ when Nicholas and Kristina were married, she said. “The only thing I could think that could have happened was a hormonal imbalance or post-partum depression or psychosis. There was no way Kristina could have done this in her right mind.” The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at