This one hit all of us here where I live. Loic was only 3 yrs old at the time of his death.
Endangerment citation issued in toddler's death
By VINCE DEVLIN of the Missoulian
The woman who lives in the east Kalispell home where 3-year-old Loic Rogers was found drowned in a septic tank was cited Thursday for negligent endangerment, a misdemeanor, by Flathead County officials.
Tommi Cates has until Feb. 21 to appear in Justice Court on the matter. The charge carries penalties of up to a $1,000 fine, a year in jail, or both.
Flathead County Attorney Ed Corrigan made the decision to charge Cates with the misdemeanor after reviewing reports from officers involved in the search for the youngster, office administrator Vickie Eggum said.
Cates, she added, was “very cooperative. She feels horrible about what happened, just like everybody else.”
After a frantic search for the boy, who disappeared on the night of Jan. 24, his body was found in the septic tank the night of Jan. 26. The tank's above-ground access was broken, investigators said, and the lightweight lid was no longer bolted securely in place.
The death was ruled an accident after the Flathead County Sheriff's Office conducted several experiments that showed it was possible the lid could have dropped back into place on its own after the child either opened it or crawled onto it.
Flathead County Sheriff Mike Meehan said investigators set the lid off-center and dropped a 30-pound weight on it to simulate a child climbing onto it, and the lid pivoted like a trap door, the weight fell into the tank and the lid swung back into place.
They also lifted the lid as a child might, dropped the weight, and the lid fell back into place.
Loic was at Cates' home with his father, brother and sister the night he disappeared.
His mother, Ariel Rogers, who is separated from her husband, had written to county officials last summer complaining of what she said were unsafe conditions at Cates' home, where she said her children were spending a lot of time with their father.
Mark Rogers got Loic, his youngest child, ready to leave first on the night he went missing, took him outside at about 7:30 p.m. and told him to get into their vehicle.
He returned to the house for a minute or two, got the other two children ready and when they stepped outside, Loic was gone.
Mark and others searched for about 20 minutes before calling police. Soon hundreds of professionals and volunteers were combing the area - many opened the septic tank lid, but no one saw any sign of the boy inside - and an Amber Alert was issued. The FBI joined the search in case the boy had been kidnapped.
But on the night of Jan. 26, police called off the search and concentrated on the septic tank. A septic pumping company drained the tank, and the body was discovered.
Reporter Vince Devlin can be reached at (406) 319-2117 or at [email protected]