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‘We’re not abusive parents’: Man whose son died of meningitis

David and Collet Stephan are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life


 
David Stephan and his wife Collet Stephan arrive at court on March 10, 2016, in Lethbridge, Alberta. The Stephans are on trial for failing to provide the necessities of life to their 19-month-old son, Ezekiel, who died in March 2012.THE CANADIAN PRESS / David Rossiter

David Stephan and his wife Collet Stephan arrive at court on March 10, 2016, in Lethbridge, Alberta. The Stephans are on trial for failing to provide the necessities of life to their 19-month-old son, Ezekiel, who died in March 2012.THE CANADIAN PRESS / David Rossiter

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – A father accused in his toddler son’s death from bacterial meningitis testified Monday that there never seemed to be a need to seek medical help because he thought his son only had the flu.

David Stephan was the first witness called by the defence in a trial he and his wife face in the death of their nearly 19-month-old boy. They are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life.

Stephan says his wife, Collet, only mentioned the possibility of meningitis the night before Ezekiel stopped breathing and was rushed to hospital in March 2012.

“What is meningitis?” Stephan said he asked his wife.

He said many of the symptoms of meningitis overlapped with that of the flu.

“There was nothing that would indicate he was in a situation where medical intervention would be required,” Stephan told court.

“We’re not abusive parents who inflict physical harm on our children.”

His lawyer asked Stephan to recount Ezekiel’s condition each day he was ill and whether he had been taken to a doctor.

Stephan said his son started to show real improvement thanks to the herbal medications they were giving him right up until the day he went to hospital.

He also had his father come in the night before to give him a blessing.

“We prayed over him the night before,” said Stephan.

He and his wife received a grim prognosis when Ezekiel was examined at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary. An examination showed the child had undergone seizures and that there was very little brain activity.

“It was fairly bleak and (the doctor) said it was rare that a child would come out of a situation like this. They didn’t completely shatter our hope. She said there was always hope,” Stephan said.

“Even if there was an inkling of hope we were going to hold on to that.”

The Crown says the couple didn’t do enough to make sure Ezekiel received the treatment he required.

The trial in Lethbridge has already heard that the boy had been sick for about 2 1/2 weeks, and his parents gave him natural remedies and homemade smoothies containing hot pepper, ginger root, horseradish and onion.

After being taken to a local facility, Ezekiel was rushed to the Calgary hospital, where he died a week later from bacterial meningitis and a lung infection.

In earlier testimony, a pediatrician said Ezekiel had less than a one per cent chance of surviving by the time he was taken to hospital and was probably already brain dead.

Stephan said he grew alarmed after several interviews with doctors when it appeared that there was a belief he and his wife might have had something to do with their son’s condition.

“It was in regard to brain damage that had taken place … and the question was posed in such a way that I was left thinking that there was suspicion. Now we’re in a state of fear of Ezekiel possibly passing but also that (older son) Ezra will possibly be taken from us.”


 

‘We’re not abusive parents’: Man whose son died of meningitis

  1. My heart breaks for this couple and their destroyed family.
    And yet, all this time, they have said over and over, “He was getting better with herbal remedies, it was just the flu, we had no reason to be worried.”
    When what most reasonable parents would now say is, “We missed the signs, we should have listened to what others told us, we’re devastated, and we are so sorry.”
    Which is the classic response of those who reject modern lifesaving interventions and have utterly rejected any culpability; they appear to remain focused on defending their righteousness.

    • On their Facebook page, they still insist they did nothing wrong and are being unjustly persecuted. They are also asking for donations to pay their defence attorney – apparently he charges $ 2,000 a day and they can’t afford that.
      What they should have done is admit they made a horrible error of judgment which resulted in their child’s death and instructed their lawyer to get the best plea bargain possible – if they had shown genuine remorse and regret, they could probably have avoided jail and have done community service instead.

  2. As well as jail time, what additonal punishments may be applicable will be the removal of these two from the Green Party Membership.

    Meningitis….let’s try some ginger root and vinegar. That should do that trick.

    They should pass a law to the quacks,…er, the Naturopaths in ‘Canada. YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO TREAT CHILDREN UNDER THE AGE OF 18. DOING SO, WILL RESULT IN JAIL TIME.

  3. The flu typically lasts about five days. If your child is still sick almost three weeks later – it isn’t the flu. And if a nurse tells you it could be meningitis – a very serious, life-threatening illness – and advises you to seek medical attention for your child, do what she says – don’t decide that you know better.

    • Correct even for the common cold. Sometimes it’s not “just a cold” but a severe allergy or a more serious infection.

  4. There is no excuse for this level of ignorance in 21st century Canada

    Don’t they have schools in Alberta?

    • I’m not as worried about the schools in Alberta, as I would be worried about someone claiming to be a “healer” proscribe something like onions or radish to cure meningitis.

      Why not just go to the closest mini-mart. No need for prescription.

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