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In Loving Memory of Evander Lee Daniels who Died in Foster Care Aged 22 Months

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on Sat, 11/24/2012 - 16:16
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In Loving Memory of Evander Lee Daniels who Died in Foster Care Aged 22 Months

Walk for the Dead

Evander Lee Daniels died in foster care in Saskatchewan at the age of 22 months. His father Chris Martell is embarking on a walk from Saskatoon to Prince Albert to raise awareness and to pay his legal fees.

Father of child who died in foster care plans awareness walk

SASKATOON — The father of a boy who died in foster care more than two weeks ago plans to walk 150 kilometres in two days to raise money to help him seek answers at the inquiry into his son's death.

Chris Martell will walk from Saskatoon to Prince Albert, Sask., to raise awareness about what happened to his son and to collect donations for legal fees.

His 22-month-old son was found in a bathtub, scalded by burns, on June 8. He was taken to hospital in Saskatoon by ambulance and pronounced dead on arrival. Autopsy results showed he died from drowning in the bathtub and that he suffered extensive "scald-type burns" across his body. The boy was in temporary care in a foster home near Aberdeen, Sask.

"My family's taking it really hard and so am I," said Martell. "I can't be alone."

While other parties involved in the inquiry process have legal representation, Martell must pay out of his own pocket.

At the last court date, he represented himself and was unable to get any answers.

"The people with legal representation got the answers, but I didn't. I felt left out," he said. "I broke down."

He realized he'd have to hire a lawyer to get the answers he needs. If negligence is found, Martell hopes to launch a civil action.

He's put in as many extra hours at work as possible, but needs at least $5,000 to afford legal representation.

Martell will leave the outskirts of Saskatoon early in the morning on July 9. He hopes to begin walking at 4 a.m., and reach Rosthern, Sask., by midnight for a five-hour break. He will then continue on to Prince Albert.

"It's for my son. I'd do anything for my son," he said. He has asked the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations for help with legal fees, but was told he'd have to pay them back.

The father will be assisted by friends along his walk. He hopes to complete the journey in two days. Anyone is invited to join in the walk.

Donations can be made through the Walk for Justice Fund at the CIBC Confederation Branch in Saskatoon. All money in the trust fund will go directly to Martell's lawyer.

There will be another walk held for those who can't make the trip July 10 in Saskatoon.

The Sturgeon Lake First Nation also has plans to hold a memorial walk July 8.

The band has its own legal representation. The band and its Child and Family Service Agency are asking for the review of foster care files relating to First Nations children. The toddler was the second child from the First Nation to die while in foster care in less than 12 months.

The RCMP and the coroner continue to investigate the death. Their work could take between three and six months. The Ministry of Social Services is pulling together files on the toddler, but will not investigate until RCMP finish their work.


Father whose son died in foster care begins walk from Saskatoon to Regina

The woman who was providing foster care to a 22-month-old boy when he died on a farm near Aberdeen will face criminal charges

Chris Martell, whose son died in June while in foster care, is walking to Regina from Saskatoon to raise money to launch a lawsuit, as well as for a memorial fund for his son.

Martell’s 22-month-old son Evander Lee Daniels died on June 8 while in foster care. Police, who had been called to a farm near Aberdeen, found the boy partially submerged in water in a bathtub. While an autopsy determined he drowned, it also showed the toddler suffered extensive “scald-type burns” across his body.

Eunice Wudrich, 45, has been charged with criminal negligence causing death and endangering the life of a child in connection with Daniels’ death.

Martell left downtown Saskatoon Friday morning and is scheduled to arrive in Regina several days from now. He’s walking on the side of Highway 11, wearing a fluorescent vest and followed by a vehicle.

He said any donations will go toward a memorial fund in Evander’s name, but also for his own legal fees as he pursues a lawsuit against various officials. He said he needs the money because his First Nation won’t pay his legal fees, as Evander was registered with his biological mother’s First Nation. Martell admitted his First Nation has given him $800 or $900, but said that wasn’t enough.

Martell also intends to deliver a letter to Social Services officials in Regina with recommendations on improving the foster-care system.

Source: Saskatoon Star Phoenix

Boy's death in foster care 'no accident': dad

The father of 22-month-old Evander Daniels, who drowned while in foster care outside Saskatoon, says he doesn't believe his son's death was an accident.

"His burns to his body were just horrible, and this is no accident," Chris Martel told CBC News Wednesday.

Martel said that despite repeated requests for information, authorities have not provided him with a full report on the circumstances of his son's death.

The boy was found partially submerged in a bathtub in a foster home in Aberdeen, about 40 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon, on June 8. He was rushed to a hospital in Saskatoon but could not be revived.

A coroner's report said the boy drowned and there were signs of scalding on his body.

On Aug. 19, RCMP announced that the woman who ran the foster home, Eunice Wudrich, 45, had been charged with endangering the life of a child and criminal negligence causing death.

Her lawyer, Mark Brayford, says Evander's death was a tragic accident, a position Brayford repeated Wednesday after an appearance in provincial court.

"It's speculation whether the child slipped in the tub," Brayford told reporters. "I mean, this is a child that's old enough to climb in and out of the tub."

Brayford noted that the child had an unexplained scrape on his head that could have come from a fall in the tub.

The boy was found in about five centimetres of water and was alone in the bathroom while Wudrich was in another room supervising four foster children and her own daughter.

Martel said it was not like his son to get into mischief.

"He wasn't the type to climb in the bathtub and turn anything on," Martel said. "He was a good little boy. He didn't go in the kitchen and grab pots and pans or nothing. He wasn't the type to do that kind of stuff."

Martel said the boy's mother was in the process of having him returned to her custody at the time he died. He said the child was in foster care because the mother had been suffering from postpartum depression.

The matter will be back before the courts in January to set a date for a preliminary hearing.

Brayford said his client plans to plead not guilty.


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Eunice Wudrich, 45, was charged with criminal negligence causing death in connection with the death of Evander Lee Daniels

The Crown is appealing the acquittal of Eunice Wudrich, who was found not guilty of criminal negligence in the death of a toddler placed in her care by the Ministry of Social Services.

A notice of appeal was filed in the Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan Tuesday afternoon in Regina. The Crown argues Justice Neil Gabrielson erred when deciding “what constitutes wanton or reckless disregard for the life or safety of Evander Lee Daniels.”

Twenty-two-month-old Daniels died on June 8, 2010 when he drowned in bathtub at an Aberdeen foster home. The tragedy happened after Wudrich left Evander alone in the bath with about two inches of water for an unknown number of minutes while she spoke to her husband a few steps away in the home’s kitchen, in order to show him some bruises on one of the other foster children.

The drowning is “a tragic and heartbreaking event” that should serve as a warning to all parents and child-care workers, Gabrielson said in delivering the not-guilty verdict on Feb. 1.