In a tragic case that dramatically emphasizes the importance of never leaving children unattended, a woman has been sentenced for the drowning death of her grandson in Lake Havasu City. Stephanie Rowland, 60, pled guilty to negligent homicide in the March, 2016 death of one year-old Caleb Rowland-Bible.
Police reports indicate Rowland was had placed her one and three year-old grandsons in a tub of running water when she answered a knock at the door of her home in Lake Havasu. She greeted a carpet cleaning service person and they toured the house for nearly 20 minutes before she returned to the bathroom to find Caleb face down and drowned.
“Stephanie Rowland’s decision to walk away from a one year-old in a bathtub for 19 minutes is unimaginable,” said Lynn Bible, Caleb’s other grandmother. “I can’t imagine what could be so important to take her attention away from her own grandson.”
Bible’s son Mikael told the Court that he is devastated by the death of his son.
“I feel broken and shattered into a million pieces that I am slowly trying to put back together,” Bible said. “I’m seeing a counselor weekly and have been put on anti-depressant medication to deal with this tragic loss.”
Judge Billy Sipe said that the Bible and Rowland families views of the case are diametrically opposite. He noted Rowland supporters believe forgiveness is in order for an accidental tragedy while the Bible family thinks deadly negligence should not go unpunished.
Sipe said a jury trial would have been a better way to resolve the opposing schools of thought. He said he agreed with the Bible family that a 100 day jail sentence is light.
But Sipe said explained terms of the plea agreement required him to impose the 100 day jail sentence. He also placed Rowland on supervised probation for four years.
Sipe said he was “disturbed” that letters written in support of Rowland suggested that Caleb had been ill since birth and that Rowland told a probation officer that his death was the result of a “perfect storm that I could not prevent.”
“This child died because it drowned. Plain and simple, end of story. You found the child face down in a bathtub of water and this child died a horrible death by drowning in this bathtub of water,” Sipe said. “It’s very disturbing for me to read suggestions that ‘well maybe this child was sick and that’s why it died’…No, this child was found face down in water.”
Sipe said animals in the wild display better maternal instincts. He noted his observations of a stray cat that gave birth to kittens that she hid and made safe in his back yard.
“It was just amazing to me to watch this cat and watch how protective this cat was over her children, her kittens,” Sipe said. “And I think to myself what did human beings get wrong? Why don’t human beings protect their children and protect their infants because they can’t protect themselves like cats in the wild do.”