Alberta father whose son died from meningitis testifies at trial

LETHBRIDGE – A father accused in his toddler son’s death from bacterial meningitis said he thought his son had the flu.

David Stephan, 32, was the first witness called by the defence Monday, in the Alberta trial for him and his wife on a charge of failing to provide the necessaries of life to the nearly 19-month-old boy.

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    Stephan said his wife, Collet, only mentioned the possibility of it being meningitis the night before Ezekiel stopped breathing and was rushed to hospital in March 2012. He testified that he knew very little about meningitis but from what his wife told him, the symptoms were much more severe than those from a viral infection and that within 24 to 48 hours, whoever contracts it will end up experiencing a medical crisis.

    He said many of the symptoms overlapped with those of the flu and that “there was nothing alarming, nothing severe about it.”

    READ MORE: Parents of Alberta boy who died from meningitis thought he had cold or flu: defence

    Stephan said they weren’t the kind of parents who would abuse a child and he became alarmed when he was told there was an investigation underway.

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

    Stephan said the couple still held out hope, even when doctors at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary warned them that the child’s prospects were bleak.

    READ MORE: Should parents be forced to give kids conventional medicine? Alberta case raises ethical questions

    The trial in Lethbridge has heard that the boy had been sick for about two-and-a-half 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.

    READ MORE: ‘Very sick little boy’: Pediatrician testifies in case of Alberta boy’s meningitis death

    Ezekiel Stephan was 18 months old when he died of meningitis.

    Prayers for Ezekiel/Facebook

    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.

    With files from Global News.