07-01-2011, 10:25 PM #1
MT - Leo Mathis, 3, drowns in creek, dad charged, 22 June 2011
This happened in East Helena, MT.
The family had apparently just moved to Montana from Washington. Initial reports said the father was crossing Prickly Pear creek (which had recently flooded) with his on in his arms when he stepped in a hole and lost hold of his son.
His son was found about a half mile down from where he went in.
The boy fell into the water at about 7:15 p.m. at JFK Park. A crew with East Helena Fire Department located the boy about a half mile down the creek near Wylie Drive.
Leo Eugene Mathis died from drowning, Lewis and Clark County Coroner Mickey Nelson said.
Nelson said the boy’s father was carrying him across the creek when the man fell into a hole and Mathis slipped out from his arms and into the water
Last edited by Noway; 07-01-2011 at 10:37 PM.
07-01-2011, 10:27 PM #2
After an investigation, the father was charged with negligent homicide.
Leo Mathis, whose 3-year-old son drowned in Prickly Pear Creek Wednesday night, was arrested Friday on a charge of negligent homicide.
Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton was tight-lipped about the case, but he did say the alleged crime fits the elements of the charges. He also added that there’s more to the story than what he can reveal at this time.
“There are several factors when compiled together that meet the elements of this alleged crime.,” Dutton said.
“But he is innocent until proven guilty.”
Mathis and his family had moved to East Helena from Washington state only days before the accident.
07-01-2011, 10:29 PM #3
The father was denied being allowed to travel to WA for his son's funeral.
The Lewis and Clark County Justice of the Peace ruled a man accused of negligent homicide cannot travel to Washington for his son’s funeral.
The criminal history of Mathis was a major part of the discussion on Wednesday. Included in this is the fact that there is a no-contact order out of Washington barring Mathis, 26, from seeing the boy’s mother, who was in court during the hearing.
Mathis served time in jail and was on probation after pleading guilty to harassing and threatening to kill the boy’s mother. As part of that sentence, the judge in Washington put a no-contact order in effect until April 2012.
He also had been arrested for assaulting his father, who refused to let him have a shotgun.
Last edited by Noway; 07-01-2011 at 10:40 PM. Reason: remove siggy and fix spacing
07-01-2011, 10:33 PM #4Mother: I miss my little boy
Leslie Dillon is working on the details of burying her 3-year-old boy. At the same time, she is trying to get her boyfriend’s bail reduced so he can attend services in Washington, from where the couple moved just days before the death of their son.
“It doesn’t seem real. I know he’s with God but I feel he should be here with me,” Dillon said in a phone interview Monday.
“He was here 3 ½ years and then gone in two seconds,” she added.A breath sample put Mathis’ blood-alcohol content at 0.091 percent; the legal limit for drunk driving is 0.08 percent.
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison.
07-01-2011, 10:36 PM #5
When I first read thie article, I tried to give them the benefit of the doubt. They had just moved here, might not know about the flooding of Prickley Pear, and wouldn't know that if that creek was "raging" as reported by others, that there was still danger.
The blood alcohol may have contributed to this accident.
Based on his history, I think it is a good thing he was not let out of jail to go back to Washington. JMO
07-01-2011, 10:55 PM #6
From the article about him not being let out of jail.
Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said an investigation into the death and the surrounding circumstances continues.
Detectives are searching for personal property that may be in the area of Prickly Pear Creek. If anyone finds any items, Dutton encouraged them to call the Sheriff’s Office at 447-8293.
Last edited by Noway; 07-01-2011 at 10:57 PM. Reason: spacing
07-02-2011, 05:42 AM #7Registered User
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Blood alcohol of less than .1 is not terribly high (and wasn't even illegal for driving until recent decades when limits were lowered in a lot of states to .08). Is LE sure this accident wouldn't have happened just the same if the father were completely sober?
I'm surprised the father was charged and I wonder what the rest of the facts are.
07-02-2011, 08:44 AM #8
07-02-2011, 10:06 AM #9
This is rumor only but the father's story did not match that of witnesses. LE may have said that in one of the articles but I heard it from a resident, not official source of any kind.
Because the creek in that area had flooded just weeks before, I'd like to see what it looks like now (even though week+ later after drowning).
I was surprised they charged him after the first story came out. But that is when I heard from another resident that his story didn't match what other witnesses told LE.
07-02-2011, 10:41 AM #10
Officials have warned us to stay away from the water but there are always some who ignore the warnings.
Since he had just moved here, he may not have known. I don't know what connection they had with EH. If they came here before, had relatives, etc.
He also may not have known that Riggs and Main Street are the ways to cross. I don't think there is any place that would have been safe to cross in the water between Gail and Main.
These are tiny blocks ... estimating 2-44 houses each block but will see exactly when I drive over.
Last edited by Noway; 07-02-2011 at 02:22 PM. Reason: clarification
07-02-2011, 02:28 PM #11
I only had time to drive to Gail from Riggs. I also had my 5 yo with me and was not dressed for exploring, but will try again tomorrow or later today if I am alone.
The bridge is not much more than 1/10 mile from the area on Gail.
If the bearm was as high that Wednesday as it was today, there is no way a 3 yo would have known there was water on the other side, although an adult might have guessed what the bearm was for.
The foilage was very thick and I'm not even sure he could have known there was a park on the other side.
This struck me after I drove away, and for my own peace of mind, I need to go back.
I don't know how many people were in the park on that night (around 7) or how much noise they were making. I didn't go to see how many people were in the park when I was on the other side but my window was down and I didn't hear anything ... but of course my daughter and I were talking so I wasn't listening to the "outside" noises.
07-02-2011, 02:57 PM #12
Also noting that there was no indication of where he and the dad climbed over. I'm guessing the bearm was rebuilt after that, assuming that emergency personnel climbed the bearm.
In this image, the street name is wrong. It's still Gail on that portion and Morton is the street that intersects.
The same image with location of bearm. There is no way for me to know what the condition of the bearm was that day unless there are photos of that area published. The blue indicates the bearm, and 4-5 feet is accurate.
Also, these Google images are old. I don't believe there is such clear access to the creek but with this image in my head (or with me) I'll have to go back.
07-02-2011, 02:58 PM #13
What was the reason for Dad carrying the child into the flooded creek?~JMO~
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07-02-2011, 04:54 PM #14
To get to the park?
From what I understand, he got a call on his cell phone, got distracted and his son climbed this "wall" of dirt/rocks. (Picture to be posted soon).
When he looked over, his son was standing in slow-moving water and the father went in and thought he'd cross over to the other side.
By the time Mathis got to his boy the child was apparently standing in the water.
For some reason Mathis then decided to try and cross the main part of the creek with the boy and drop him off on the other side.
But along the way "Mathis lost his footing in the main current and dropped his son," writes Lewis and Clark County Attorney Leo Gallagher.
Mathis says he dove into the water several times looking for his son, but obviously he didn't find him in time.
Last edited by Noway; 07-02-2011 at 05:07 PM. Reason: as noted and ?
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