Coroner says cause of baby’s death undetermined

Parents say they were made to feel like murderers

Published on January 17, 2014
Wiley Ryder Adams, six months old, of Kensington was found unresponsive in his parents' bed at 3 a.m. Nov. 16. He was pronounced dead at Prince County Hospital an hour later.
Photo special to The Guardian

KENSINGTON - The chief coroner has ruled the sudden death of a baby boy in November was the result of sudden unexpected death in infancy.

“The cause of death is undetermined and the manner of death is undetermined,’’ Dr. Charles Trainor said in a statement released Friday afternoon.

Trainor says the autopsy of six-month-old Wiley Ryder Adams states no obvious anatomical cause of death was found. The toxicology report was also negative.

However, the scene investigation carried out by the RCMP forensic unit and the Kensington Police uncovered a number of risk factors, including cigarette smoking and bed sharing.

Trainor says the baby was in bed with his parents. The parents awoke around 3 a.m. on Nov. 16 and found the infant unresponsive. The infant was rushed to the Prince County Hospital where he could not be resuscitated.

Trainor concludes that because risk factors were found in the scene, this was not a SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) death.

“This is a sudden unexplained death in infancy (SUDI), which is death of an infant under one year of age where the autopsy does not identify a cause of death, but the investigation (examination of the scene, the police investigation, review of clinical history) reveals positive findings,’’ says Trainor in his coroner’s statement.

“These findings do not definitely establish a cause of death, but exclude the diagnosis of SIDS.’’

Trainor cautioned that bed sharing where the infant is in bed with the adults is a very dangerous practice.

“I urge all parents and caregivers to avoid this practice when caring for infants,’’ he said.

“We have a SIDS/SUDI death every one to two years in the province,’’ added Trainor. “These deaths are very tragic to the families and to society. Removing all risk factors will lower the rate of SIDS/SIDU in our province.’’

The parents could not be reached for comment, but the baby’s father gave an interview to TC Media last month that The Guardian and Journal Pioneer are reporting now for the first time.

Nathan McKellar, 40, spoke on how the deep grief over the sudden death of his son was more than excruciating enough for him and his long-time girlfriend Angie Adams. Undergoing heavy interrogation from police and enduring public wrath, he added, has made the ordeal practically unbearable.

McKellar says he and Angie Adams cherished their six-month-old son. The pair had tried for a long time to have a baby and little Wiley was a true joy in their lives.

“He was beautiful,’’ says McKellar.

The world of early parenthood came crashing down for the pair on Nov. 16.

McKellar says his girlfriend woke him up saying something was wrong with their baby. Wiley was not breathing.

McKellar says he tried to resuscitate his son.

With the shock over their baby’s death very raw, the Kensington police treated the pair to what McKellar describes as a brutal interrogation. Separated by police, both McKellar and Adams were questioned for more than 16 hours.

“They were questioning us like it was a murder,’’ he said.

Police then took the couple to a hotel for two days while the apartment was, in McKellar’s view, turned into a crime scene. He says the RCMP forensic unit removed blankets, pillows, sheets and toys.

“I know we didn’t have anything to do with it," he said. "I know we had nothing to do with the death of our son.’’

Trainor says investigating the sudden death of an infant requires a thorough process.

“The police have to do a scene investigation,’’ he said. “There are all kinds of questions that have to be asked.’’

McKellar says since the tragedy, each time he and his girlfriend are out in public they have been made to feel like evil people who have each committed an unspeakable act.

“You live in a small town we get the looks all the time,’’ he says.

“The people that know us know that we loved our son and know we didn’t do it. We have a lot of support but we still have a lot of people looking at us.’’

Kensington Police Chief Lewie Sutherland said he would make his final comments on the case next week.

 

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