Parents demand answers after 3-year-old boy dies while in foster care

KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii (KHON) — A Hawaii island family is mourning the death of a 3-year-old boy.

The Hawaii Police Department say the child was in foster care when he died, and the case is now under investigation.

No criminal charges have been filed at this point. The boy’s parents are distraught and want to know how this could have happened.

According to his parents, Fabian Garcia died Tuesday at a hospital in Kailua-Kona.

Because he was in foster care, Juben Garcia says Child Welfare Services, a branch under the Department of Human Services, brought them the devastating news.

“They said there’s no easy way to say this, and then my girlfriend asked, ‘Is Fabian alive?’ and she said no, and that was it,” said Juben Garcia.

Juben Garcia says his son and his two other children were removed from their home in August 2016. The family home was deemed unacceptable due to his drug use.

He says he still can’t believe that his little boy is gone.

“I don’t know how to explain it. It’s numbing. I don’t know, shock, I guess,” he said. “It’s shocking, like unbelievable. Even after I saw him, I couldn’t believe he was dead.”

He adds that CWS has not given much of an explanation as to what happened.

“They said that he was wearing some virtual reality goggles, and then he was at the table and then he fell from like three or four feet,” Juben Garcia said. “Something startled him and then he fell face first without without putting his hands in front of him.”

We checked with Hawaii island police and Child Welfare Services for more information. All police will tell us is that the child was in foster care when he died. A CWS spokeswoman says she is not allowed to give out any information.

The spokeswoman did tell us that all foster parents are given background checks. They also have to pass certain housing and sanitation standards.

The child’s father says he’s now worried about his two other children who remain in foster care.

“They said they placed them with another foster family, which doesn’t give me any names or any assurance that this is not going to happen again,” Juben Garcia said.

A CWS spokeswoman tells us that since 2006, five children have died under foster care, but only one of those deaths was caused by the foster parents.

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