Prosecutor to review drowning case

  • 1 min to read

Nearly two months after a 3-year-old boy wandered away from his day care in Waterbury Center and drowned in Thatcher Brook, Vermont State Police have wrapped up their investigation.

However, the details have not been disclosed; the case has been turned over to the Washington County state’s attorney, said Scott Waterman, the state police spokesman.

The prosecutor will evaluate the evidence and decide if the day care center, Elephant in the Field, will face any charges in the toddler’s death.

The day care has been closed since the child’s death.

According to police, staff members at Elephant in the Field realized Parker Berry of Hyde Park was missing only when a family member came to pick him up midafternoon on Feb. 11. Apparently, he wandered away earlier in the day when staff members took the children outside to play.

Parker was found partially submerged in the brook, and his heart had stopped.

Rescuers tried for hours to keep the child alive. He died at the University of Vermont Medical Center the following day.

Elephant in the Field Holistic Education and Childcare got its start in September 2012, when Noah and Marlena Fishman opened their farm on Guptil Road in Waterbury to up to 10 local children.

The center’s mission was “to inspire love for the land, hope for the future and connectedness among all living things,” according to the center’s website, which was taken down after the tragedy.

In three and a half years of operation, Elephant in the Field had no recorded violations on the state agency’s Bright Futures database, which tracks registered child care providers across the state.

The state Department for Children and Families launched its own investigation. Reeva Murphy, deputy commissioner of the child development division, said that, in her six-plus years with the department, this is the first time a child wandered off and was injured. She has seen only one death in child care — a provider in Williamstown was charged in the death of a 4-month-old baby who suffocated in 2010. The provider put the baby down for a nap on a couch in her home, but placed him on his stomach; the general practice is to put babies on their backs to sleep.

Show us you enjoyed this content by becoming a newspaper subscriber.

We use a Facebook Comments Plugin for commenting. No personal harassment, abuse or hate speech is permitted. Comments should be 1000 characters or fewer. We moderate every comment. Please go to our Terms of Use/Privacy Policy "Posting Rules and Interactivity" for more information.