It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.
A sick child seems to improve but suddenly is in medical distress. The help you counted on fails and the doctors inform you your child has died.
Then it gets worse.
The parents are under investigation for child neglect despite doing everything they could to save their child.
This is the story of David and Collet Stephan.
In 2012, their 18 month old son, Ezekiel, seemed to have symptoms of croup. After a week, he recovered but became sick again with mild, flu like symptoms.
Collet was four and a half months pregnant at the time. Her midwife, Terrie Meynders, who is a registered nurse, checked on Collet and also gave Ezekiel a once over. She was not concerned and recommended electrolytes. She felt that they would be turned away from the hospital as his symptoms were mild.
The next day the family went into a nearby city and picked up some electrolytes and an echinacea tincture from a naturopath. Ezekiel’s energy improved and symptoms disappeared after drinking the electrolytes, but that evening after a short nap, he displayed strange breathing patterns.
And then, he stopped breathing.
They called 911. A few minutes into the call, Ezekiel coughed up some mucus and liquid and began breathing again. They ended the call and rather than wait for an ambulance, which might not find their rural home headed to the hospital.
Shortly after getting their other child and Ezekiel into the car and heading to the hospital, Ezekiel stopped breathing again and they called 911. An ambulance, that was 40 kilometres away, was dispatched, rather than one that they had been within 100 yards of minutes earlier.
As the family raced toward the hospital, Colett performed CPR on Ezekiel. Eleven minutes later, they met the ambulance, transferred Ezekiel into the care of paramedics and followed them to the hospital. When they arrived at Cardston hospital, they were distraught to learn that he was unresponsive. He was transferred to Lethbridge hospital and then air lifted to Alberta Children’s hospital, over 200 kilometres away.
Just a few days later, doctors declared him brain dead, advised turning off life support, and pressured them to donate his organs.
A year later, David and Collet were blindsided when the RCMP charged them with failing to provide the necessities of life.
Fast forward to 2016. Collet and David find themselves in a court room and a jury finds them guilty. David is eventually sentenced to four months in prison, Collet, three months house arrest. They decide to appeal.
Does the Medical Examiner’s Office in Calgary have a corruption problem?
During the trial of the Stephans, Dr. Anny Sauvageau testified. During questioning, Crown Attorney Lisa Weich, brought up the fact that Dr. Sauvageau had left her position with the Medical Examiners office involuntarily.
“My contract was not renewed,” Sauvageau said. “I was surprised.”
Weich also mentioned a law suit that the doctor had against the Department of Justice and Solicitor General, which overseas the Medical Examiner’s Office for wrongful dismissal. Dr. Sauvageau says that she has nothing against the department and her suit is against very specific people.
“It’s important, as an expert witness, we do not belong to anyone,” she said. “We are neutral.”
Does this mean that witnesses have been pressured to testify in court to ensure cases have a certain outcome?
During the preliminary trial in 2014, Dr. Adeagbo testified that Ezekiel Stephan’s death could be caused by several factors. Specifically that brain death could have been the result of seven to eight minutes of oxygen starvation. In court in 2016, he was adamant that one thing caused Ezekiel’s death: Meningitis.
One of the paramedics, Kenneth Cherniawski testified that the ambulance was not properly equipped to help a child of Ezekiel’s size. He was said that he was told not to discuss the case with anyone including the defence council.
In 2018, the Stephans appealed and the Appeals Court upheld the conviction. One of three judges disagreed, meaning the case would go before the Supreme Court. It was determined that the Judge in the original trial didn’t instruct the jurors in a way they could understand.
Over the next year or so, they investigated, collecting documents including CT scans, X-rays, an autopsy report, and other hospital documents on Ezekiel’s file. What they found was astounding.
The CT Scans that were released showed no evidence of meningitis. The X-Rays, which had not been released to the Stephan’s defence team during trial, showed no evidence of Right Pleural Empyema.
Notes on Ezekiel’s hospital records indicated that he was breathing on his own and that he was given a paralytic medication, which lead to cardiac arrest. Medical personnel on the STARS helicopter administered more of the drug and less than half an hour later, gave another dose. The doses given, were five times too much for a child Ezekiel’s size .
Does Health Canada have a grudge against the Stephan family?
Health Canada had sued TrueHope, owned by David’s father, in 2006 and eventually lost.
The Stephan family doesn’t vaccinate their children.
After the trial, they learned that the RCMP had submitted 450 documents. When they requested all of Ezekiel’s medical documents, there were 623 documents in the file. It was also discovered that Sgt. Darrin Turnbull had emailed at least three other officers and the RCMP Communications advisors, telling them that he had been inundated with calls from the media and that two reporters had told him a couple things:
- David and Collet Stephan’s child was ill with meningitis and that they had attempted to treat him the child with herbal remedies and other naturopathic treatments
- That David’s father is Anthony F. Stephan, also of Raymond, AB who owns a company called “TrueHope” that lost a court battle with Health Canada over “natural alternatives to pharmaceuticals.
Who were these reporters and why did they feed the RCMP false information?
What about the mainstream media?
If you search for David and Collet Stephan, you will find 645,000 hits. In just about every news story, it is stated that Ezekiel died from meningitis. They call the Stephans anti-vaccine. They also claim that they treated him with things like maple syrup, and concoctions of horseradish, garlic and hot pepper smoothies.
What does the media have to gain from smearing and maligning this family?