Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Family still looking for answers

Baby boy died in the care of CFS worker

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The family of a baby boy who died in the care of Child and Family Services earlier this year says it is disappointed at the failure of the chief medical examiner's office to determine a cause of death.

Matias De Antonio was born Feb. 24 and died March 27 -- about a month after being placed in the custody of CFS. The tot died after being transported by automobile by a CFS worker to a foster home after a visit with his mother. When the worker went to take Matias out of the car, the baby was blue.

"They said the (cause of) death is undetermined," the baby's uncle, Carlos Burgos, said by telephone Tuesday, quoting from a toxicology report marked "confidential" that was given to the family a day earlier. It was dated May 9.

The CME said the report must neither be circulated nor copied without its permission, Burgos said. However, Burgos did not believe he was prevented from quoting from the document.

The CME could not be reached for comment late Tuesday.

The report said the baby had been "wrapped in several layers," including a blanket "likely" over his face.

The report added it is possible the wrapping, combined with a warm vehicle, "may have overwhelmed" the baby's ability to regulate its body temperature.

"Further, the placing of a blanket over the head also raises the question of whether suffocation potentially played a role in his death," said Burgos, reading from the report signed by pathologist Dr. D. Rhee.

But that's as far as the report went, citing a lack of "supportive evidence." Burgos said the family is confused about why the report could not be more explicit -- although he said it was warned by its lawyer not to expect a conclusion the boy suffocated.

The family has been told the male CFS worker heard the baby crying twice during the 38-minute trip but didn't stop to check why. "That's so sad," Burgos said.

Meanwhile, he said the family is still in the dark about why the baby was apprehended in the first place. He said there was no documentation provided -- "they didn't show us anything."

Several family members could have taken care of the baby -- including the 20-year-old mother's sister and mother -- if CFS believed the tot's mother was unable to, he said. The baby's father lives in Colombia.

Rachel Morgan, a spokeswoman for Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross, said it is standard practice for CFS to inform parents of the reasons for apprehending a child at the time of the apprehension.

Morgan said she would not speak for the medical examiner's office, but as far as she knows "the cause of (the baby's) death has not been determined."

She said all the information the department gets through CFS is being shared with the minister and the family.

Irvin-Ross has met with the family twice, Morgan said.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 11, 2014 B2

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