Dec 282011

KINGMAN – The Mohave County Attorney’s Office is reviewing the case of a baby who drowned while in the care of a foster parent to determine if the death merits criminal negligence charges.

The baby, identified by the Sheriff’s Office as 8-month-old David Whatahomigie, was in the care of Hualapai foster parents. They are not being named by the Miner at this time because charges have not been filed. The couple have two children, ages 12 and 13, and were also caring for a 3-year-old they were seeking custody of at the time of the drowning.

According to the Sheriff’s Office’s incident report, the foster mother told authorities she drew a bath in her Valle Vista home for the 3-year-old and the 8-month-old around 1 p.m. Sept. 25. The baby was a little fussy once in the water, she said, so she went to go retrieve a towel from a hall closet just outside the bathroom.

She said that while she was getting a towel, the phone rang and she went to the bedroom to answer it. At the same time, her fiance came home and she greeted him before they returned to the bathroom and found the infant face down in the bathtub.

According to the report, the foster mother estimated she had been out of the bathroom for three to five minutes. That time frame was corroborated by an older child watching television in the living room at the time.

The parents pulled the baby out of the water and began resuscitation efforts until the ambulance arrived a few minutes later.

The foster mother said the water in the bathtub, which was drained by the parents as the baby was discovered, came up to the children’s belly buttons, which investigators determined to be around 8 to 10 inches. The foster father told authorities he believed the water level was closer to four inches.

The woman had been a foster mother for the Hualapai tribe for more than five years before she was suspended by the tribe following the incident. According to tribal social services officials, she was current on all her training to be a foster parent and had completed the required 60 hours required by the tribe.

The County Attorney’s Office said it does not have a time line on when a decision will be made on possible charges.

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