Foster parent found not guilty of criminal negligence


Foster parent found not guilty of criminal negligence

Eunice Wudrich, a former foster parent accused of criminal negligence in the bathtub downing of a toddler placed in her care by Social Services, was found not guilty in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench Friday.

Eunice Wudrich, a former foster parent accused of criminal negligence in the bathtub downing of a toddler placed in her care by Social Services, was found not guilty in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench Friday.

"It is to be hoped that the tragic series of events which gave rise to Evander's death will send a message to all parents, foster parents and childcare providers that incidents like this can and do happen, and one has to be eternally vigilant to ensure that harm or death is not caused to our children, who are the most vulnerable members of our society," said Justice Neil Gabrielson.

Wudrich was charged in 2010 after 22-month-old Evander Daniels drowned in a bathtub at the foster home she operated with her husband Dennis near the town of Aberdeen.

The couple was caring for five foster children — all of them toddlers under four years of age — as well as their adopted nine-year-old daughter. Their rural acreage was also home to more than 20 horses and other farm animals, as well as more than two dozen dogs. Dennis Wudrich worked outside the home on weekdays, leaving Eunice with sole responsibility for the children and animals.

On the afternoon of June 8, 2010, she left Evander alone in the tub with about two inches of water and became distracted for an unknown number of minutes.

Shortly after Dennis arrived home from work, their daughter told the couple she could hear water running in the bathroom. Dennis rushed in to find Evander face-down and motionless in the tub, with hot water running from the faucet. His body was covered in scalding burns. Efforts to revive him were not successful. A subsequent autopsy found the cause of his death to be drowning.

During final arguments at the conclusion of Wudrich’s trial in Saskatoon Court of Queen’s Bench last month, Crown prosecutor Paul Goldstein argued the 48-year-old foster mother was criminally negligent when she left Evander alone in the bath.

Defence lawyer Mark Brayford argued Wudrich had a “divided responsibility” and could not be expected to provide one-on-one supervision to all five toddlers at all times. He argued Evander’s death was the accidental result of a tragic mistake, not a crime.