The Hawaii island family whose 3-year-old boy died while in foster care is seeking answers, and hopes someone out there has information on their son’s last days.
On Tuesday, a judge lifted parts of a gag order, which means the family is now allowed to talk.
The Hawaii Police Department says on July 25, paramedics were called to the foster home in Waimea, where they tried to revive Fabian Garett-Garcia, who was not breathing. The toddler was rushed to North Hawaii Community Hospital where he died.
Garett-Garcia’s family tells KHON2 all they want right now is to find out exactly how and why their 3-year-old boy died. Since they’re not getting information from the state or investigators, they want the public to help.
The state’s Child Welfare Services Branch issued a gag order on the case days later, which the family’s attorney argued in court Tuesday was too restrictive.
“The previous gag order was unconstitutional and deprived the parents of the ability to speak to police, to speak to even a family counselor,” said attorney Jeffrey Foster.
Foster says the new gag order will at least allow the family to talk to investigators, as well as a family counselor to discuss their grief. They can now also ask the public for help.
Garett-Garcia’s parents released a statement that said: “We have very little information about how Fabian died or the events and circumstances leading up to his death. If anyone has any information, we ask that you come forward.”
“Any leads, any information whatsoever as minute or as insignificant as it may seem to people out there, we ask that they come forward so we can provide the family the answers that they deserve,” Foster said.
Child Welfare Services is not allowed to discuss specific cases, but the assistant administrator, Cynthia Goss, did agree to talk about gag orders in general and why the state needs to put them in place.
“We need to do our investigation. So does law enforcement, and you want none of that tainted by information that’s incomplete or misinformation for that matter,” she said.
Goss adds that in her 33 years at Child Welfare Services, she’s only aware of five cases where a gag order was issued, and it’s ultimately to protect the children, parents, and foster parents, also known as resource caregivers.
“When information is released prematurely or it’s not based on fact, you do a lot of damage to the children, the parents, the resource caregivers, the system, to our staff,” said Goss.
The medical examiner has not released the cause of death.
Anyone with information can call Hawaii County Police or email email@example.com.