Killeen: Mother charged after son, 6, drowns in local apartment pool

By  | 

KILLEEN, Texas (KWTX) The mother of a 6-year-old Killeen boy who died at a Temple hospital four days after he was pulled unresponsive from the pool at a local apartment complex was jailed Monday, charged with abandoning a child causing death or imminent danger.

Katie Marie Rhea. (Jail photo)

Katie Marie Rhea, 27, was ordered held in lieu of $200,000 bond.

Killeen police responded to a report of a drowning on May 27 to the Bridgewater Apartments in the 600 block of West Hallmark Avenue.

When officers arrived they found bystanders performing CPR, but the Jonathan DeWitt, 6, was not breathing and did not have a pulse.

A witness who pulled the child out of the water said he saw the boy in the deep end of the pool while he was swimming.

The pool’s maximum depth is 8 feet, the affidavit says.

The boy was taken to AdventHealth Central Texas in Killeen and then was transferred to McLane Children’s Hospital in Temple, where he died on May 31.

Another witness told police she was at the pool at around 6:30 p.m. on May 27 and saw a little boy playing, but “advised that she saw the adult leave and did not see the child again until he was pulled out of the deep end,” the affidavit says.

“The witness advised the child’s mother was sitting by the door of her apartment and did not come until someone advised her that it was her son that was pulled from the pool” the affidavit says.

When police interviewed Rhea at the hospital “she admitted to (an officer) that her son Jonathan was out at the pool with his brother,” who is 7 years old, the affidavit says.

She then told the officer she left the pool and went to her apartment, the affidavit says.

She also “advised that the child could not swim, did not have on any flotation devices while he was alone in the pool and that she could not swim either,” the affidavit says.

According to the affidavit, Rhea “admitted…that none of the people at the pool were responsible for watching her children.”

“Katie Rhea admitted that she was receiving ongoing family-based safety services at the time of the drowning and that this was 10th child protection service case,” the affidavit says.

Rhea also told police “she had been drinking alcohol that day, which was confirmed by other witnesses. One witness said that Katie Rhea had been sitting on the porch of her apartment, looking at her phone and drinking alcoholic beverages while her sons were at the swimming pool,” the affidavit says.

Rhea’s apartment is more than 25 feet from the pool, the affidavit says.

The boy was a Killeen ISD student.

After the drowning district officials urged parents to review water safety with their children as summer approaches.