DCS: Neglect found following 3-year-old boy’s drowning at Phoenix home

DCS was called to the Phoenix home regarding neglect of the little boy and his siblings four times before the drowning.
Published: Sep. 8, 2022 at 6:10 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- A recent report from the Department of Child Safety shows the agency was called to a Phoenix home four times before a 3-year-old boy drowned in January. The drowning near 21st Avenue and Bell Road was the first child drowning of 2022. A neighbor of the boy said he tried to tell his parents they needed to keep a better eye on the children.

“They never heeded the advice that was given. It wasn’t politely given. It was damn it you watch your kids. One of them is going to die,” he said.

The neighbor, known as J, said the three-year-old’s death has shaken him to his core. He was home on January 5 when the toddler was found in a backyard pool and heard the screams from a neighbor. “I went to the backyard and by the time I got to the front to find out what was going on, the firetrucks were pulling up,” he said.

It’s believed the toddler crossed the alley behind his home and got through a broken gate. The house directly behind his, with the pool, was vacant at the time.

The report recently released by DCS shows the agency was contacted in March, April, July, and October of 2021 for allegations of neglect regarding the child and his siblings. Neighbors made reports claiming the kids were wandering the street, left inside a vehicle, or being locked in their rooms. All allegations were unfounded. “These were kind of important things that the police were aware of,” the neighbor said.

But after the drowning, the department filed a dependency petition with the court alleging neglect. In May, the court ruled the child’s parents neglected him and his siblings. The neighbor says he’s drained his pool as an added precaution. He’s seen the boy’s siblings in his backyard in the past. “The frustration is there’s too many kids in this world that get hurt too often, this was such a preventable thing to even have happen,” he said.

Arizona’s Family did speak with the child’s mother. She said she did not want to respond to DCS’s decision because the agency still has oversight of her other children. She admits neglect on her part but also blames the homeowner of the vacant house because the gate was broken. DCS did not respond to an email for comment.