Crown to cross-examine Alberta father charged in son’s meningitis death

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – The Crown is expected to cross-examine a father accused in his toddler son’s death from bacterial meningitis four years ago when his trial resumes on Tuesday.

David Stephan, 32, and his wife Collet, 35, are charged with failing to provide the necessaries of life for their son Ezekiel in March 2012.

David Stephan was the first defence witness called in the trial for the couple, formerly of Glenwood, Alta. The couple now resides in Nelson, B.C.



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    He told the jury on Monday that the nearly 19-month-old boy appeared to get better at times, even right up until the night he stopped breathing and had to be rushed to hospital.

    READ MORE: Alberta father whose son died from meningitis testifies at trial

    Stephan said there was nothing to indicate Ezekiel had anything worse than the croup or the flu so he and his wife didn’t seek medical attention.

    Instead, the boy, who had been sick for about 2 1/2 weeks, was given natural remedies and homemade smoothies containing hot pepper, ginger root, horseradish and onion.

    Stephan said Ezekiel seemed to be improving right up until the day he was rushed to hospital.

    “He had a good sleep that night. the next morning he was getting better. His energy level was better,” said Stephan.

    “The symptoms had subsided. Everything was absolutely looking up. There was nothing that would have said, hey, in three hours you’re going to have an urgent situation.”

    But later that evening the boy’s breathing pattern began to change and then he stopped breathing altogether.

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

    After being taken to hospital in Cardston, Alta., Ezekiel was rushed to a Calgary hospital where he died a week later from bacterial meningitis and a lung infection.

    The Crown contends the couple didn’t do enough to ensure the toddler had proper access to medical care before he became seriously ill.

    In earlier testimony, a pediatrician said Ezekiel had less than a one per cent chance of surviving by the time he was rushed to an Alberta hospital.

    Dr. Shauna Burkholder, who works at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, said medical staff at the smaller hospital near their home were able to revive Ezekiel, but it’s likely he was already brain dead at that point.

    The jury has already heard that a friend who was a nurse told the Stephans that their boy might have viral meningitis and advised them to take him to a doctor.