Tuesday, Aug. 09, 2022|
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KAILUA-KONA — Police are investigating the death of a toddler found lifeless in his foster care home last week.
The state medical examiner has not yet determined a cause of death for the 3-year-old boy who was pronounced dead at a Waimea hospital on July 25. On Monday, the state granted a Department of Human Services’ request for a temporary gag order. The matter currently is set for a hearing before a Family Court judge next week.
Keopu Reelitz, public information officer and communication specialist for DHS, confirmed the state agency filed a motion to have all of the parties comply with existing statutory provisions that state all information and court records with regard to the Child Protective Act can only be shared by order of the court.
Parents identified the toddler as Fabian Garcia-Garett. West Hawaii Today reached out to Fabian’s mother, Sherri-Ann Garett, who referred a reporter to her attorney, Jeffrey Foster.
“We are opposing the gag order,” Foster said.
Foster added he could not discuss any facts of the case because of the gag order.
According to the Hawaii Police Department, the child was found not breathing at a Waimea home while in foster care. HPD Maj. Robert Wagner said officers arrived at the residence at 7:18 p.m. Medics were already there, performing life-saving measures on the child.
The toddler was taken to North Hawaii Community Hospital in Waimea, where he was pronounced dead at 7:54 p.m.
Wagner said the foster parents gave police an indication of what happened to the toddler throughout the day. However, police are not releasing details of anyone’s statements because of the ongoing investigation.
Wagner said the foster parents have been cooperative.
Fabian’s body was sent to the state medical examiner’s office. Wagner said investigators are waiting for the medical examiner to determine cause of death.
An autopsy report also has not been released.
Fabian’s father, Juben Garcia, spoke to the Honolulu-based TV station KHON2 last week. According to the station’s report, Garcia’s son and two other children were removed from their home in August 2016 because of Juben Garcia’s drug use.
According to the KHON2 report, Garcia said officials told him his son was wearing some type of virtual reality glasses and fell about 4 feet.
Since 2006, Reelitz said, five children have died while in the state’s care.
Reelitz explained that when someone reports to Child Welfare Services about a child or children they’re concerned about, CWS does an assessment.
Reelitz said her agency doesn’t remove a child immediately from their home unless it’s necessary. CWS also tries to keep children with family members to cause less disruption in their lives.
“We’re judging on safety and risk factors,” she said.
Defense attorney Brian DeLima, who is not connected with this case, spoke generally about why a gag order would be issued. He said when CWS is involved in any investigation it’s always confidential.
“It seems prudent that no one should speak about it if there are siblings or other parties involved,” DeLima said.
A relative of the family started a Go Fund Me account to help with Fabian’s funeral costs. For details, visit, www.gofundme.com/fabian-garciagarett.
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