EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KXRM) — An 11-year-old boy died from forced water intoxication after being forced to drink 64 ounces of water a day, and his father and stepmother are facing charges, authorities said.
Arrest warrants were issued for 41-year-old Ryan Sabin and 42-year-old Tara Sabin in the death of Zachary Sabin. They turned themselves in to authorities last week and both face charges of first-degree murder, child abuse resulting in death and six counts of misdemeanor child abuse.
“No parent should ever have to bury their child,” said Angela Tuetken, Zachary’s mother.
Water intoxication is water poisoning from drinking too much. According to court documents, the parents made Zachary drink 64 ounces of water a day because he wet the bed. On March 10, he got in trouble for not drinking enough water, and he was told to drink more, which led to his death.
Zachary’s father told police: “[His son] was supposed to drink water due to his bedwetting issue.” The night before he died, he said “he was flailing around putting on an act.”
Stepmother Tara Sabin told police: “[The child] used to do exercises which were given to him by a physical therapist, but he would get dramatic and throw tantrums about doing the exercises. She said he would cry and say he couldn’t do them and throw himself on the floor.”
The father also told police he kicked the boy a few times when he “threw a fit.”
The documents show Zachary was told to keep drinking water while the rest of the family ate dinner. Five other children, between the ages of 3 and 16, also lived with the couple.
According to the affidavit, Zachary was put to bed around 11:15 p.m. on March 10. Ryan Sabin called 911 just after 6 a.m. the next day, saying when he went down to check on Zachary, “there was blood and he was foaming at the mouth. [He] was cold and stiff.”
El Paso County Sheriff’s Office Detective Kat Huston said the case is heartbreaking.
“We are people too and a lot of us are parents as well, so any death is important to investigate fully, and to bring justice to the victims. I think that whenever its a child it hits a little bit harder for us,” Huston added.
Said Matthew Tuetkin, Zachary’s stepfather: “I can’t even begin to express the amount of pain myself, my wife and our children feel at the loss of Zachary.”
“I will miss my Zach attack’s sweet nature, I will never be able to hear his contagious laugh. This is by far the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure in my life,” Angela Tuetken said.
She say he had a humor-filled personality and was always trying to make people smile and laugh. He loved video games, books and reading, she said.
“Zach would stay up late at night with a flashlight reading underneath his blanket,” Angela Tuetken said “And when he wasn’t reading, he was playing Minecraft building elaborate beautiful worlds.”
The other children who lived with the couple have been removed from the home.