Baby’s death sparks review of situation

Province, child advocate announce separate probes.

The death of a six-week-old infant in Nanaimo has sparked a police investigation and dredged up painful memories from a previous death that initiated a landmark case in B.C.

Police and emergency services were called to an apartment in the 200 block of Wakesiah Avenue shortly before 6 a.m. Sunday and found a baby boy unresponsive. Efforts to revive the child failed and he was pronounced dead at the scene.

Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman, said Friday morning the investigation was still active and police were working to determine if anything criminal in nature happened that led to the boy’s death.

“Our investigation is continuing,” O’Brien said. “It’s still an investigation into the death of a child. There have been no decisions made within that investigation. We’re in the process of collecting information to determine what led to the death of the child.”

In an e-mail, Minister for Children and Family Development Mary McNeil said she was briefed on the case from the Director of Child Welfare, who is launching a review of the baby’s death.

That review will be conducted by someone external to the ministry and the findings made public.

In the meantime, the ministry will co-operate fully in the coroner and police investigations, she said.

The death of a child in the government care or in contact with the provincial system is automatically forwarded to the Representative for Children and Youth’s office for review.

John Greschner, chief investigator, confirmed that the office was notified of the death and is in the process of gathering information on the case to decide whether to launch a full investigation.

That investigation will not start until at least a year after the child’s death and only after any criminal investigation, or those by the coroner or government, has wrapped up.

A review by the child and youth advocate can also help identify or answer any lingering questions about the circumstances of a child’s death.

The child’s grandfather Archie Frank identified the child to A TV in an interview Wednesday as Joshua and his mother as Juliana Frank.

Archie Frank said Wednesday the family has been through this before. Juliana Frank was also the mother of Sherry Charlie who died while in foster care of her aunt in Port Alberni in September 2002.

That case prompted the creation of the Representative for Children and Youth’s office.

Ryan George, who was the common-law partner of Sherry’s aunt, is serving a 10-year prison sentence for the beating death of the girl, who was just 19 months old when she died.

The family refused further comment when contacted Thursday.