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Authorities probe death of 4-year-old in Palmdale

City News Service | 7/12/2019, midnight

An investigation was underway this week into the death of a 4-year-old Palmdale boy who was reported to have been injured in a near drowning but had trauma injuries that raised suspicion about how he died.

Authorities were called about 4 p.m. July 5 to a home where the boy, identified by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office as Noah Cuatro, lived with his parents and three siblings, according to Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who announced the investigation at a Tuesday news conference.

The boy’s parents reported that the child nearly drowned in the pool at the family’s home in the 1200 block of East Avenue S, sheriff’s Lt. JoeMendoza said.

The child was taken first to Palmdale Regional Medical Center and then to Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

“Once the child was transported to a local hospital, there was some trauma found on the body that was inconsistent with a drowning,” Mendoza said.

The boy was pronounced dead on Saturday morning, but the cause of death was not disclosed.

Noah’s parents were questioned, but not arrested and his siblings were taken into protective custody, Mendoza said.

There were previous reports to the Department of Children and Family Services regarding the boy, but specifics of the reports were not revealed.

“At this point, we’re retrieving the case file as we speak, we’re going to be reviewing that case file and we’ll have more information in the next coming days,” Mendoza said.

A GoFundMe page established to assist the family had raised $1,030 toward a $3,000 goal as of Wednesday morning.

Noah’s death follows the deaths of two Antelope Valley boys—10 year-old Anthony Avalos of Lancaster in June 2018 and 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez of Palmdale in May 2013—who were found to have suffered severe abuse in cases that raised questions about the effectiveness of DFCS personnel and policies.

In June 2018, Fernandez’s mother, Pearl Sinthia Fernandez, 34, was sentenced to life in prison without parole and her boyfriend, Isauro Aguirre, 37, was sentenced to death for the torture killing of Gabriel. At the time of sentencing, Superior Court Judge George G. Lomeli said the abuse suffered by the boy was “horrendous, inhumane and nothing short of evil.”

In the Avalos case, his mother, Heather Maxine Barron, 29, and her boyfriend, Kareem Ernesto Leiva, 32, pleaded not guilty to killing and torturing the boy before his death.

Prosecutors alleged Barron and Leiva starved and force-fed Avalos, slammed him onto the floor and into furniture, wouldn’t let him go to the bathroom and had his siblings hurt Anthony.

In both cases, the L.A. County Department of Children and Family Services received reports about abuse, but chose to leave each boy in the home with his mother and her boyfriend.