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The Globe and Mail

RCMP charge Alberta parents in death of 19-month-old

The Alberta Children’s Hospital

Chris Bolin/The Globe and Mail

A couple charged with failing to provide the necessities of life after their 19-month-old son died say poor ambulance service played a role in their son's death.

David Stephan, 29, and his wife, Collet Stephan, 32, were charged by RCMP after what Mounties called a detailed investigation.

Ezekial Stephan died five days after being admitted to the Children's Hospital in Calgary last March. Investigators believe the toddler had become ill the previous month.

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On Wednesday, the Stephans issued a statement defending their actions when their son became ill with "a slight flu-like illness."

"Like any other good parents, we attended to the matter and treated him accordingly to standard practices and recommendations like millions of parents do each year," said the couple, who live at a rural residence near Raymond, Alta.

Over the next few days they said it appeared Ezekial was doing better but one day he suddenly stopped breathing.

They administered CPR and called 911 but said things after that did not go well.

"We live in a rural residence within five minutes of the nearest ambulance that could have been dispatched to us," they said. "Without being properly notified by 911 dispatch we took it upon ourselves to meet the dispatched ambulance halfway on the highway."

As a result, they said it was 40 minutes after their 911 call before he was in the care of attending EMTs, and even then they said the ambulance was not equipped with the proper intubation equipment for a child.

The boy was rushed to the nearest hospital, and later airlifted to Calgary where he was on life support for a few days.

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"It was later determined that our son did have a lung infection which then led to meningitis," said the couple. "The EMTs who attended have indicated to us that they have been frustrated for some time prior to this tragic event, because they have been after Alberta Health Services to no avail to properly equip their ambulances with the proper intubation equipment for small children."

The Stephans are scheduled to appear in Lethbridge provincial court on May 23.

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