Friday 15 July 2016

Parents stupidly let their young child die                                           

It is a sad commentary of our times that stupid parents still choose not to seek proper medical assistance to save their children who are extremely ill and instead they choose to use useless methods to treat their children. 

David Stephan, 33 and his wife, Collet Stephan, 36 an Alberta couple are the stupid parents that I am writing about in this article. They failed to provide the necessaries of life for their 19-month-old son, Ezekiel who died from bacterial meningitis.

As this infection primarily targets the brain and the spinal cord, it will result in stiffness in the neck and the back. This happens as the membranes around the spinal cord and brain begin to swell, reducing a person’s ability to move. Along with general stiffness, the person will of course feel some level of discomfort and slight pain, which over time may become more severe. 

There are lots of different symptoms of meningitis and while some adults will experience these symptoms in themselves and suspect meningitis, stupid people who won’t even go to a doctor end up dying at home. That goes for their children if the parents don’t act quickly to see a doctor or alternatively take their child to a nearby hospital.

Several tests may be carried out to confirm the diagnosis and check whether the condition is the result of a viral or bacterial infection.

These tests may include: a physical examination to look for symptoms of meningitis, a blood test to check for bacteria or viruses, a lumbar-puncture   where a sample of fluid is taken from the spine and checked for bacteria or viruses a computerised tomography (CT) scan to check for any problems with the brain, such as swelling

None of this was done for Ezekiel because his parents were too stupid to realize just how ill their 19th month old son was and that it was absolutely necessary for them to take him to the nearest hospital for an examination and treatment. Why did they not take him to the hospital in time to save their child?

They chose instead to treat their son with naturopathic remedies rather than seeking medical treatment for him.   

Naturopathic physicians are trained in the art and science of natural health care at accredited medical colleges. Integrative partnerships between conventional medical doctors and licensed MDs are becoming more available. This cooperation makes more effective therapies available to consumers. 

But let’s face it. Not all naturopathic remedies are effective for a great many illnesses, especially for bacterial or viral meningitis. Instead of first bringing their child to a medical doctor, they choose to go to a naturopathic clinic in Lethbridge to pick up an echinacea mixture.   

Echinacea is an herb that is native to areas east of the Rocky Mountains in the United States. It is also grown in western States, as well as in Canada and Europe. Several species of the echinacea plant are used to make medicine from its leaves, flower, and root. 

For a time, echinacea enjoyed official status as a result of being listed in the US National Formulary from 1916-1950. However, use of echinacea fell out of favor in the United States with the discovery of antibiotics. But now, people are becoming interested in echinacea again because some antibiotics don't work as well as they used to against certain bacteria.

Echinacea is widely used to fight infections, especially the common cold, the flu, and other upper respiratory infections. Some people take echinacea at the first sign of a cold, hoping they will be able to keep the cold from developing. Other people take echinacea after cold symptoms have started, hoping they can make symptoms less severe.

Echinacea is also used against many other infections including urinary tract infections, vaginal yeast infections, herpes, HIV/AIDS, human papilloma virus (HPV), bloodstream infections such as septicmia, tonsillitis, streptococcus infections, syphilis, typhoid, malaria, ear infection, swine flu, warts, and nose and throat infections called diphtheria.

I should point out that many drugs that are sold in pharmacies are made from leaves, flowers and roots so it isn’t strange that drugs in naturopathic clinics use the same sources as pharmaceutical manufacturers do.

But when anyone, be it a child or an adult suffers from stiffness in the limbs, anyone with any semblance of brain matter will first seek advice from a medical doctor and not choose to go to a naturopathic clinic to seek help. As you can see, the help they got from that clinic was more than just useless; it was actually fatal for that small child. Echinacea doesn‘t cure anyone from bacterial meningitis and any doctor would have told these two dolts this.

The Stephans never called for medical assistance until Ezekiel stopped breathing. He was then rushed to a local hospital but died after being transported to a Calgary hospital.

On April 26th, 2016, a jury convicted David Stephan and Collet Stephan of failing to provide the necessaries of life to their son Ezekiel, a charge under section. 215(2)(b) of the Criminal Code. 

The Canadian criminal process then required that the trial judge impose a sentence on the Stephans.

  Section 723(1) of the Criminal Code provides that, before determining the sentence, a court shall give the Crown (prosecutor) and the offender an opportunity to make submissions with respect to any facts relevant to sentence. The Crown and defence agreed that those submissions would be made in writing only and made part of the sentence hearing, and that no further evidence concerning the facts would be submitted. The judge reviewed  the evidence relating to the care of Ezekiel by his parents.

Ezekiel was born in August 2010, and  David Stephen and Collet Stephan were his parents.  They both owed him a duty of care because he was under the charge of both of them.  Ezekiel was unable, by reason of his age, to withdraw from their charge and unable, by reason of his age, to provide himself with the necessaries of life. 

The judge said in his sentencing decision, “Mr. Stephan and Ms. Stephan were caring and attentive parents, and had no intention of harming Ezekiel.” unquote  Doing something incredibly stupid doesn’t necessarily mean that parents are not carrying and attentive parents.

The judge said, “Mr. and Ms. Stephan were very involved in Ezekiel’s care, and both were aware of his condition. Ezekiel was under Ms. Stephan’s constant supervision, and although Mr. Stephan was away from home at work for some of the time, he was kept aware of Ezekiel’s condition. When he was home he was actively involved in Ezekiel’s care and supervision.  Mr. and Ms. Stephan made decisions for Ezekiel’s care together.” unquote

Ezekiel started to show symptoms of illness including a fever, decreased appetite, troublesome breathing, and some difficulty swallowing. This occurred while he was at his pre-school. 

Later that day they were in Lethbridge at a Superstore, where they were aware of the existence of a walk-in medical clinic, but they did not take Ezekiel to the clinic. That was their first mistake. Had they done this, the boy may have been correctly diagnosed.

Instead Ms. Stephan contacted a friend by telephone, Ms. Meynders, who is a nurse and mid-wife.  Ms. Meynders listened to Ezekiel’s breathing on the cell-phone and croup was discussed.  Ms. Stephan also conducted research on the internet. She felt Ezekiel likely had croup, so she and Mr. Stephan treated him with fresh air, humidifier and fluids by eye-dropper (water with maple syrup). They also gave Ezekiel smoothies with his regular natural supplements and additional natural supplements including olive leaf extract, garlic, and methylsulfonylmethane. (MSM)

In October 2000, the United States Food and Drug Administration warned one MSM promoter, Karl Loren, to cease and desist from making therapeutic claims for MSM.

Ezekiel’s fever abated although over the next few days his skin frequently felt hot.  He continued to have decreased appetite, low energy and reduced activity, and although he had episodes where he had some trouble breathing, overall Mr. Stephan and Ms. Stephan felt he was gradually improving.  They discontinued the additional supplements.

The family went to church on Sunday,  March 4th.  By Monday, March 5th, Ezekiel seemed to Mr. Stephan and Ms. Stephan to be much improved.  His energy was not yet back to normal but he no longer had trouble breathing.  Mr. Stephan went out of town to work and Ms. Stephan took him back to his pre-school class.  He did alright there, but it still seemed his energy was not back to normal. 

   The next day, Tuesday, March 6th, Ezekiel was weaker still. He was less responsive and less communicative, and lay in bed and moaned.  Ms. Stephan noticed movements she had not observed from him before: he tugged at his diaper and rubbed his face. He did not seem to be controlling these movements, and when reflecting upon them later, Ms. Stephan thought they may have been involuntary. 

 Ezekiel’s condition concerned Ms. Stephan, so she looked online. She decided to increase Ezekiel’s fluids.  Ms.  Stephan did not tell her husband about the movements, but she did relate Ezekiel’s condition to Mr. Stephan by telephone that day.  She told him that Ezekiel’s energy levels had decreased and she thought he was getting sick again.

 Mr. Stephan returned at about noon on Thursday, March 8 with some natural products he had picked up for Ezekiel while he was in Melfort.  Ezekiel was in bed in his parents’ room with cartoons playing on a computer.  They gave him the products: apple cider vinegar, onion powder, ginger root, garlic, hot peppers, and horseradish root.  Over the next few days he seemed to improve, and his appetite increased somewhat, but he was not really active or playful.  He also began to show signs of stiffness or joint tension.  That was a warning of the onslaught of meningitis which the Stephan`s didn`t comprehend.

Between Friday, March 9, and Monday, March 12, the boy`s stiffness increased and his back began to arch.  His lethargy and weakness increased and he was refusing food. The family did not go to church that Sunday. They were worried about exposing Ezekiel to further illness. That is whe they should have taken their son to a hospital.

 On Sunday night Ezekiel had a lot of difficulty sleeping, and Mr. Stephan slept in the spare bedroom because Ezekiel was in bed with Ms. Stephan

Her husband went to a business meeting in the morning of Monday, March 12. Ms. Stephan was concerned.  She called Ms. Meynders and asked her to come and examine Ezekiel. She told Ms. Meynders that Ezekiel was sleepy in the bathtub. Ms. Stephan told Mr. Stephan about her concerns when he came home for lunch. She said that Ms. Meynders was coming to look at Ezekiel.  They discussed Ezekiel’s symptoms and whether they should take Ezekiel to a doctor.  Mr. Stephan went to his next meeting.  His father was also at the meeting and Mr. Stephan asked his father to come over that evening to give Ezekiel a blessing.

Ms. Meynders had a full day but she re-arranged her schedule and her husband drove her to the Stephans’ home.  She examined Ezekiel and told Ms. Stephan that she did not know what the problem was, but she raised the possibility of meningitis.  She suggested Ms. Stephan should take Ezekiel to a doctor.  Ms. Stephan did some research on the internet about meningitis and conducted physical manipulation tests on Ezekiel that she learned about on the internet.  She looked at the symptoms for bacterial and viral meningitis, and, mostly due to the duration for which Ezekiel had symptoms, she concluded Ezekiel had viral meningitis.

   Ms. Stephan told Mr. Stephan by telephone what Ms. Meynders said, and that meningitis was a possibility.  When Mr. Stephan returned home from his second meeting that Monday they discussed Ms. Meynders’ visit, and Ms. Stephan told him about her research, and about her conclusion. Mr. Stephan agreed that meningitis was a possibility.  They both understood that bacterial meningitis was extremely serious, yet they agreed not to take Ezekiel to a doctor at that time. That was their second foolish mistake. Instead they resumed the olive leaf extract, garlic, and MSM supplement, and started him on Total Reload, which is another type of supplement. This occurred around suppertime on Monday, March 12.

On Monday evening, Mr. Stephan’s father arrived to give Ezekiel his blessing. He did this in the parent’s bedroom, where Ezekiel was lying on the bed. On Tuesday, March 13th, Mr. Stephan decided to take the day off to help Ms. Stephan out, and because he and Ms. Stephan needed to go into Lethbridge to sign purchase documents. By the time of the trip into Lethbridge Ezekiel was too stiff to sit comfortably in his car seat so Ms. Stephan rode on the one-hour trip from Glenwood to Lethbridge in the back of their SUV with him on a bed they made up for him. 

Ms. Stephan had earlier called a naturopathic clinic and told the receptionist she wanted something to boost Ezekiel’s immune system because he had viral meningitis.  The receptionist told her she should take Ezekiel to a doctor, and Ms. Stephan told her that they had a nurse looking in on the baby.  After the Stephan’s finished at their lawyer’s office they went to the naturopathic clinic and got a product called Blast, which is an echinacea tincture; a natural remedy.  They gave Ezekiel some, and then went shopping at Superstore. They did not take him to the walk-in medical clinic there, but instead they returned home, this time with Mr. Stephan lying in the back with Ezekiel. That was their third mistake.

When they got home, they gave Ezekiel more fluids and it seemed to them that he began to have a very restful sleep.  Mr. Stephan encouraged Ms. Stephan to go to a meeting for about an hour, and that he would watch Ezekiel. 

Mr. Stephan noticed that Ezekiel began to experience irregular breathing  and shortly after Ms. Stephan returned from her meeting, around 9 pm, Ezekiel stopped breathing.  Mr. Stephan called his father, and then called 911.  Ms. Stephan patted Ezekiel’s back and he started breathing again but shortly after that, he stopped breathing again. Ms. Stephan gave Ezekiel a few rescue breaths and he started breathing again.  

  Mr. Stephan told the 911 operator that an ambulance did not need to be dispatched because Ezekiel was breathing again and they would drive him to the hospital.  That was his fourth mistake.

About 20 minutes later the family left in their vehicle for the Cardston hospital.  Ezekiel stopped breathing again and Ms. Stephan performed CPR in the vehicle for a considerable time while Mr. Stephan drove and called 911.  The family met the ambulance a few kilometers from Cardston where the ambulance attendants took over Ezekiel’s care.   By then Ezekiel was blue.  It seems to me that if the ambulance had not been initially canceled, the child may have survived. By the time the Stephans met the ambulance, it was too late for the boy to survive. 

When the emergency responders took over Ezekiel’s care, he had no pulse or blood pressure, his heart rate was 0, he was not breathing, his respiratory rate was 0, and his Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) score was 3, the lowest score possible.  The GCS gives an indication of the level of consciousness.  The pupils of his eyes didn’t enlarge when a light was shone at them. Further there was no muscle movement or verbal response.  The doctors described this state of the boy as being dead.

At the hospital a doctor replaced the tube which had been placed by the emergency responders with a different sized tube to optimize ventilation.  Medication and fluids were provided intravenously and spontaneous circulation (resuscitation) returned after about 30 minutes.  CPR continued for 2 more minutes to build up the boy’s  blood pressure. 

  Ezekiel was then transported to the Lethbridge hospital with a Cardston physician and met by the Alberta Children’s Hospital pediatric intensive care unit transport team.  He was transported to Calgary via STARS helicopter.  He received various therapies in the PICU but sadly he never regained consciousness. 

In accordance with protocols he was neurologically assessed by two physicians the morning of March 15th and again on March 16th.  On both occasions a neurological determination of death and formal brain death was made. The date and time of his death are stated in the autopsy report as March 16, 2012, 9:20 a.m.  By then he was officially dead.

There were four opportunities for the boy’s parents to take their child to a doctor or a hospital and they foolishly chose to discount those options in their belief that they could treat their stricken son without professional help. Their belief killed their young son. Their actions in this sad situation was tantamount to criminal negligence.

There was a legal obligation of the Stephans to do the right thing to save their child and yet, they chose to ignore their parental responsibility by discounting the obvious; take their stricken boy to a doctor or a hospital. Their failure to do the right thing amounts to criminal negligence.

Criminal negligence is defined by Canadian law as;

219. (1) Every one is criminally negligent who (a) in doing anything, or (b) in omitting to do anything that it is his duty to do, shows wanton or reckless disregard to the lives or safety of other persons.

There certainly was a duty on the part of the Stephans towards their child to protect him and their negligence was without any doubt wanton and reckless.

Manslaugher is defined in Canadian law as follows;

Any "culpable homicide" that does not meet the definition of murder is said to be manslaughter. Culpable homicide is defined to include when a person causes the death of another human being by: (a) by means of an unlawful act; (b) by criminal negligence.  

In my opinion, the Stephans could have been charged and convicted of either of those underlined offences.

The police decided that although Stephans were stupid, they really did love their child and did what they honestly believed was in the best interests of their son even though it was horribly wrong.

That is why the Stephans were charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life to their son Ezekiel, a charge under section 215(2)(b) of the Criminal Code

The trial judge said in his decision with respect to the sentencing of the Stephans;

“Mr. and Ms. Stephan did not provide Ezekiel with medical attention.  This was a failure of their legal duty to provide necessaries of life. It was a marked departure from the required standard of care.  It is morally blameworthy conduct.”

Mr. Stephan was sentenced to four months in jail and his wife was sentenced to three months of house arrest (conditional sentence which includes community service).  She was also ordered to post an unedited copy of the sentencing decision to websites and social media accounts she is personally affiliated with. Both will be on probation for two years after they complete their sentences and will have to complete 240 hours of community service by 2018.

After they were convicted, they announced that they would not file an appeal. They both appealed as did the Crown. According to the Crown the sentences given to the couple were too lenient.

The Stephans argue that the judge’s instructions to the jury were unfair. They also argue that the judge should have accepted expert testimony that was excluded. Quite frankly, I don’t see how that would change the minds of the jurors.

If these two fools do the same thing to their remaining children like they did to their youngest son, they will have them taken away from them permanently. 

They are currently free. The Alberta Court of Appeal will decide their fate when the matter is reviewed by them.

The prosecution had asked the trial judge for a sentence in the range of three to 4½ years in prison, while the defence had argued for a suspended or conditional sentence with no time behind bars. The maximum sentence for the crime they were convicted of is five years.

The appeal process itself is extremely financially taxing, you have to purchase all the transcripts from the previous trial, and seeing how it was a very long trial, that in itself would be probably $30,000 to $50,000, and that's excluding lawyers' fees and whatnot.

It is conceivable that the lawyers for the Stephans may be able to purchase a copy of the transcript from the Crown for a lessor fee.

Mr. Stephan posted a letter on social media to the jury following its verdict, saying it sets a dangerous precedent. In his message he wrote;  

“The floodgates have now been opened, and if we do not fall in line with parenting as seen fit by the government, we all stand at risk of criminal prosecution.”

He continues to stand behind those words. That is another sign of his stupidity. He is implying that what he and his wife didn’t do for their child was acceptable conduct that would meet Canadian standards. Their inaction definitely did not come anywhere close to the high standards expected of all parents in Canada and elsewhere.

Here is another stupid statement made by Mr. Stephan’s father;

Like any other good parents, we attended to the matter and treated him (Ezekiel) accordingly to standard practices and recommendations like millions of parents do each year.”

If millions of parents treated their stricken children like that fool treated his stricken grandson son, then a great many children will have died needlessly. 

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