Missing boy's death ruled an accidental drowning
The Pierce County medical examiner's office said Friday that 8-year-old Azriel Carver drowned and that his death was an accident. The search for the boy's missing mother, Shantina Smiley, 29, resumed Friday, including an aerial search in the vicinity of Fox Island where the boy's body was found, but nothing new was found.
The Pierce County Medical Examiner's Office said Friday that 8-year-old Azriel Carver drowned and that his death was an accident.
The boy's body was found Thursday on a beach at the south end of Fox Island.
Another day of searching on Friday yielded no news in the hunt for the boy's missing mother, Shantina Smiley, 29, of Silverdale, Kitsap County.
"No, we haven't heard of anything being found," Thurston County sheriff's Lt. Chris Mealy said Friday night.
Thurston County had a boat in the water Friday looking for Smiley.
Pierce County sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said Friday that a plane had been sent up to look for her in the general area where her son's body had been found. In an e-mail Friday night, Troyer said the search will not resume unless new information turns up.
Mealy said his office planned no searches this weekend.
Thurston County authorities led the search for the mother and son after the van in which they were traveling was found abandoned and partially submerged Sunday off a remote area north of Olympia. Pierce County took the lead in the investigation when the boy's body was found in that county.
The mother and son disappeared on Saturday while traveling from Silverdale to visit her stepfather in Castle Rock, Cowlitz County. She made a series of telephone calls from Olympia to tell her fiancé, Robb Simmons, that she would be later than expected, explaining that she had stopped for food or had lost her way. When she never arrived, a search was launched.
Simmons told authorities this week that Smiley is a recovering alcoholic who had relapsed last week. But he said he was certain she would never do anything to endanger her son.
However, Smiley's record as a parent is not unblemished. In the past five years, the state's Child Protective Services (CPS) has investigated three of 10 complaints involving Smiley and her son, the most recent in April 2009.
In June 2005, someone reported the boy had suffered serious physical abuse, according to Sherry Hill, a spokeswoman for the agency. Smiley's ex-boyfriend was arrested for assault but never prosecuted.
After its investigation, CPS could not determine who had committed the abuse, Smiley or the ex-boyfriend. At that point, Smiley voluntarily sent the boy to live with relatives.
In March 2007, CPS investigated a complaint that Smiley had physically abused her son, but the complaint was deemed "unfounded."
In August 2007, the agency found that Smiley was negligent in caring for her son. "The child was left unsupervised after she had passed out from alcohol abuse," Hill said. The boy was placed with relatives while Smiley received substance-abuse treatment.
The most recent complaint, considered "information only," was not investigated.
CPS says it will now conduct an extensive "fatality review," which involves going over every aspect of the case to see if mistakes were made by any agency along the way. Such a review is required by law because the child died within one year of receiving CPS services.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.