Mother Searching for Answers about 9-Month-Old Son’s Death at Daycare

Posted on behalf of RizkLaw on Apr 08, 2019 in Firm News

blocks for kids to play withOn August 24, 2018, 9-month-old William Cannon died in his parent’s arms at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU), just two days after he was found unresponsive at a state-licensed daycare center. It has been about eight months since this tragedy, and his parents still do not know why their son died.

Jenna Keehn, William’s mother, hired Rizk Law senior lawyer Richard Rizk to start an investigation to get answers. This comes as a criminal investigation is awaiting a grand jury decision, Oregon’s Department of Justice declined a request by the state’s House Republican leader for an independent investigation, and Governor Kate Brown has denied accusations that William Cannon’s death was covered up.

However, Rizk is not interested in the political aspects of this situation. “We’re interested in getting to the bottom of why William died,” he said.

Cannon’s mother still has no answers about her son’s death, which makes her worry constantly about the safety of her newborn daughter.

What Happened at the Daycare Center?

William’s mother enrolled him at Little Big Blessings daycare in March 2018. She needed care for her son while she worked. She liked that Little Big Blessings had a great organization.

Little Big Blessings notified the mother promptly when her son suffered minor injuries, such as when he hit his mouth and eye on toys. The provider also told the mother about an inspection in April 2018, when William was propped up on a pillow in a bassinet. Under state rules, daycare centers must allow infants to sleep on flat surfaces to lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome.

These things did not cause Keehn to become overly concerned for her son’s safety and she said her son seemed really happy.

On August 22, in the afternoon, William fell asleep with one of the daycare workers, who then left the room for 10 minutes to prepare a bottle for him. When the worker returned, the baby was breathing shallowly and rolled up on his side.

After the worker opened William’s airway, he stopped breathing a few minutes later. The worker began CPR, but William only too a few shallow breaths when the worker paused her compressions.

After 30 minutes of CPR by emergency medical personnel, William’s blood circulation was restored. However, the next day doctors had declared William brain dead.

William had been diagnosed with severe anemia earlier that month – this condition results in the blood not having enough red blood cells to deliver enough oxygen to organs and tissues. However, doctors at OHSU said this was not a factor in William’s death.

Problems with the Investigation of William Cannon’s Death

The investigation of this tragic death was compromised, according to Rizk.

For example, Oregon’s chief medical examiner did not conduct a forensic autopsy, which frustrated the Lane County District Attorney’s Office and Detective Cliff Sites, according to reporting from The Oregonian/OregonLive. The medical examiner used information relayed by attending doctors at OHSU.

Even though OHSU conducted an autopsy to give more information to the family, the autopsy was not meant to make a legal determination of the cause of death to assist a criminal investigation of the matter.

While the OHSU autopsy showed damage to the baby’s brain and heart consistent with lack of oxygen due to prolonged cardiac arrest, the autopsy report says the cause of cardiac arrest is not apparent.

Public Disclosure

Questions have also been raised about public disclosure of William Cannon’s death, according to reporting by The Register Guard. On Aug. 24, before William died, a spokesperson for the Early Learning Division emailed a spokesperson for the Governor about a draft for a statement to the media. The statement said the division was aware of this tragedy and was working with partner agencies and the provider had surrendered her license one day earlier.

Just a half an hour later, the governor’s spokesperson emailed the division spokesperson. The email said a Eugene police detective told them they could not say much about the death. This email string was forwarded to the governor’s office and the draft statement was never sent out.

As the criminal investigation into William’s death went on for seven months, the state was quiet about the situation.

Lane County District Attorney Patty Perlow was unaware if any discussions occurred between her office and the Eugene Police Department about William’s death.

In the middle of last month, Republicans in Oregon’s House of Representatives called for an investigation to determine:

  • Why William’s death went unreported?
  • Why an agency that answers to the governor hid the incident?
  • What communication was there between the governor’s office and state officials who had been notified of the death?
  • Why the public statement about William’s death was never released?

However, last week, Deputy Attorney General Frederick Boss said the department lacks the authority to start an investigation at the request of a state lawmaker. The deputy attorney general also said a review by the department’s criminal justice division found that was not a reasonable probability an investigation would uncover evidence of a criminal act by state officials.

Contact Us If You Have Any Information

As our firm investigates William’s death, you can contact us with any information about the situation or Little Big Blessings daycare. We are trying to find out why this happened so this type of tragedy can be prevented from happening again.