BURKE COUNTY, G.A. (WJBF) – Burke County’s Sheriff is explaining why his office can’t file charges related to the drowning death of 4 year-old Israel Scott. Augusta’s District Attorney is also weighing in.
“Did she willfully intend for Izzy to die,” said Sheriff Alfonzo Williams.
Burke County Sheriff Alfonzo Williams says he and his investigators couldn’t find any evidence to suggest that the drowning of 4-year-old Israel Izzy Scott under the supervision of his swim instructor Lexi Tenhuisen was intentional.
Sheriff Williams says, “And we have met with a representative from the district attorney’s office for the Augusta Circuit who also looked at the evidence and the law with us and we were not able to find sufficient evidence that would warrant a charge of criminal negligence.”
He says while there may have been negligence on the instructor’s part, the sheriff’s office did not find it criminal. Sheriff Williams laid out the definition of criminal negligence and how an incident could warrant the charge.
“Criminal negligence is an act or failure to act which demonstrates a willful…willful wanting or a reckless disregard for the safety of others. So, there you have it. You gotta prove a willful wanting or just a reckless disregard for the safety of others,” he said.
He says if the instructor would have been on her phone, or even ran inside to turn off her stove, that would warrant a criminal charge.
“Just completely didn’t care about his safety. If we had the evidence to prove that and the evidence would obviously be statements could be other evidence but in a case like this, then we would be able to meet that threshold,” he said.
Georgia law states that an accident or misfortune is not a crime. The Burke County Sheriff’s Office released this 23 page document of the investigation. It’s made up of witness statements and accounts. The witnesses are children from the class, adults who were watching waiting for the next class to start, and the instructor
“The instructor herself didn’t see anything unusual didn’t hear anything unusual. No splashed nobody called for help. There is one child who out of the nine who were interviewed that said Izzy got out of the pool ahead of him and he saw Izzy get onto the dive board and go into the water, but nobody else saw that,” said Sheriff Williams.
The reports says Izzy was discovered in the deep end of the pool by another student, but according to witness statements no one knows how. Several witnesses say that the instructor was the last person to get out of the pool.
“We have asked the questions and nobody saw him left in the pool,” said Sheriff Williams. “The other eight kids couldn’t really, they couldn’t even tell us who they were standing next to when the relay started,” he added.
The report goes on to say that the instructor was assisting in administering CPR to Izzy when deputies arrived on the scene. And while Sheriff Williams says two attorneys from the district attorney’s office have reviewed this report and agreed with its findings, District Attorney Jared Williams released a statement earlier Thursday saying his office had not yet received the report and because of that a decision has not been made in whether criminal charges will be pursued.
Sheriff Williams says the investigation was turned over to the DA’s office around 1′ o clock Thursday. NewsChannel 6 also asked him about several laws concerning teacher to student ratios in swim classes and how the mother was not given any consent forms to sign. He says those laws are for public pools and not private pools which is where Izzy’s swim lessons took place.
Find that full report below: