Mother charged in drowning of 3-year-old son

Carmen Gaye Stewart, 42, is charged with charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life.
Carmen Gaye Stewart's three-year-old son, Traeh, drowned near this beach at Mink Lake, Alta., in June 2013. (CBC)

An Edmonton woman has been charged in the drowning of her 3-year-old son last year.

Carmen Gaye Stewart, 42, is charged with criminal negligence causing death and failing to provide the necessaries of life.

Her son, Traeh, was found floating in Mink Lake, west of Edmonton by an older boy, around 9 p.m. on June 30, 2013.

Some adults at the scene tried performing CPR. Traeh died the next day at Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton.

When asked why it took nearly a year for charges to be laid, RCMP said they needed to interview all the witnesses who were on the beach when the child drowned.

“What we [needed] to determine is whether this behaviour illustrated by Miss Stewart is a marked departure from what a reasonable parent would display,” said Cpl. Colette Zazulak with the RCMP.

“It is a rare charge and fortunately these incidents are rare as well,” she added.

Stewart will make her first appearance in Stony Plain Provincial Court next month.

Day was 'typical long weekend' at the beach

DelilaWhitby, who works at the RV Park at Mink Lake where the drowning happened, said the child’s death was a major shock.

Delila Whitby works for the RV Park where the drowning happened. She said things like this could happen to any parent. (CBC)

Describing June 30 as a "typical long weekend" day for the park, she said the beach was packed when the child drowned. 

While a horrible situation, Whitby said something like this could happen to almost anybody.

“As a parent, at one time or another, we've all went into the house to get supper and we have relied on an older child or a cousin that is out visiting to watch the kids for five minutes while you set the table or get supper on the table. That's where I feel bad.”

“One second, they're holding your hand and you think they're going to get some rocks or some shells on the beach – and the next thing you know you've got a wide search looking for your child,” she added.

RCMP are reminding parents to be attentive when spending time on or near the water.

Mink Lake is about 60 kilometres west of Edmonton.