Trial hears details of toddler drowning case

A woman from Aberdeen, Sask., who is charged in the drowning of a 22-month-old foster child is on trial in Saskatoon.

Note: Some readers may find details of the trial to be disturbing.

A judge has begun hearing evidence in the case of a woman accused of negligence over the death of a foster child, Steve Pasqualotto reports. 1:43

A woman from Aberdeen, Sask., who is charged in the drowning death of a 22-month-old foster child, is on trial in Saskatoon.

Eunice Wudrich is charged with criminal negligence causing the death of Evander Daniels.

Wudrich, who has opted be tried by Queen's Bench judge without a jury, had been caring for five foster children at the time of the little boy's death in June 2010.

Eunice Wudrich is accused of criminal negligence in the death of a foster child in 2010. (CBC)

The trial began Monday, hearing from Social Services Ministry workers who said they had concerns about what was going on in Wudrich's home.

One social worker also testified that she did not know Wudrich had a hearing impairment until after the boy's death.

The boy's father said he is hoping the trial will shed light on what happened.

"It's hard. I've developed post traumatic stress," Chris Martell said. "My family are waiting for answers and so am I."

The defence is arguing the boy's death was an accident, noting the depth of water in the tub was five centimetres.

"She's devastated by what happened," Mark Brayford, Wudrich's lawyer, said Monday on the steps of the court house. "She's very very troubled by what happened [and] obviously feels a sense of responsibility and fault for what happened."

According to Brayford, Wudrich was in the kitchen when the boy was in the tub. She was supervising four other foster children and her own daughter.

"Accidents occur all the time because people make mistakes that are negligent, but that doesn't elevate it to a crime," Brayford said.

On Monday, Dennis Wudrich recalled for the court his recollection of what happened. He was the one who found the child partially submerged in the bathtub.

He recalled yelling out to his wife, saying "Eunice, call 911, I think we have a dead baby."

With a faltering voice, he described how the boy's scalded skin fell off in his hands as he performed CPR on the bathroom floor.

He said he did not know how the hot water came to be running.

"For a split moment in time we failed as a family," he  told the court.

An autopsy report said the cause of death was drowning and noted the boy had extensive scalding burns.

The trial is expected to last two days.

Aberdeen is about 30 kilometres northeast of Saskatoon.