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Idaho dad gave kids single caution before fatal trek in snow
Before a 12-year-old boy and his younger sister tried to hike 10 miles in the snow on Christmas Day, their father offered them a single caution and then stayed behind to free his car from a snowdrift, the boy testified Friday. "He said: Be safe and stick together," said Bear Aragon in 5th District Court, about a month after his sister died of apparent hypothermia.
The Associated Press
SHOSHONE, Idaho — Before a 12-year-old boy and his younger sister tried to hike 10 miles in the snow on Christmas Day, their father offered them a single caution and then stayed behind to free his car from a snowdrift, the boy testified Friday.
"He said: Be safe and stick together," said Bear Aragon in 5th District Court, about a month after his sister died of apparent hypothermia.
The boy testified at a preliminary hearing as an Idaho prosecutor sketched out his case against Robert Aragon, a 55-year-old laborer who had custody of the children.
Aragon is charged with involuntary manslaughter and felony injury to a child after his son suffered hypothermia and his 11-year-old daughter, Sage, died.
Kenneth Quintana, Aragon's cousin who had been in the car, had faced the same charges. Judge Mark Ingram dismissed the counts against Quintana on Friday after defense lawyer Doug Nelson argued that his client did not have custody of the children when they were allowed to walk.
"The root of all of this is a decision Mr. Aragon made to allow his children to walk," said Lincoln County Prosecutor E. Scott Paul. "It resulted in the death of one of his children."
Aragon and Quintana were driving the children to their mother's house on Dec. 25 when Aragon's car got stuck in a snowdrift. Bear said during the hearing Friday that he decided to walk to his mother's home and find help after the car got stuck.
"I told my sister it was up to her if she wanted to go," he said.
The children walked for several miles until Sage decided to turn back toward the highway. Bear was found later that night in a deserted rest stop more than four miles away. His sister was found dead the next day, covered in snow.
Prosecutors last week dropped murder charges initially filed against both men.
"When things calmed down, I think he (Paul) realized there was some overreaction, and he understood nobody intended for these children to be hurt," Nelson told The Associated Press on Friday.
Aragon's bond was reduced Friday from $500,000 to $25,000. He was being held in the Jerome County Jail.
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
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