B.C. child welfare official testifies at inquiry into teen's death in Calgary

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CALGARY — A 15-year-old boy who died in Calgary weighing just 37 pounds was also near death in a British Columbia hospital about a decade earlier, a child welfare official from that province testified at the teen's fatal injury.

Alexandru Radita was brought to a hospital in 2003 by ambulance with a bloated stomach, rotten teeth and thinning hair, and he was extremely underweight, the deputy director of Child Welfare in B.C. testified Tuesday at the Calgary inquiry.

"It was about insulin and it was probably the most grave report that we had on this family in British Columbia," James Wale said. "It was a very concerning report. Alex was near death."

Radita died of bacterial sepsis in May 2013, which was brought on by complications from untreated diabetes and starvation.

His parents, Emil and Rodica Radita, who were found guilty in 2017 of first-degree murder, refused to accept the boy had diabetes when he was diagnosed with the disease in 2000 in B.C.

He was hospitalized twice due to malnutrition and taken into foster care before later being returned to his parents who moved to Alberta in 2008.

The inquiry was adjourned in September in an effort to bring in witnesses from British Columbia.

"I need to hear it from the ministry in terms of their responses, their actions and what they were seeing because that is the focal point of this inquiry is the state action, not the murder trial," Alberta Provincial Court Judge Sharon Van de Veen said in September.

"The purpose of this inquiry is to determine if we can prevent similar deaths and I'm looking at the involvement of state agencies who could have or did play a role in regard to the treatment of children generally."

Wale said Tuesday that his office reviewed all dealings with the Radita family from 2000 to 2009.

Problems came to light in 2000 and 2001, but came to a head in October 2003 when Alexandru was brought to hospital, he said.

Wale said paramedics at the scene reported the severity of the neglect to the RCMP.

"Without intervention at this time, it is highly likely he would have died within hours," Wale said.

Wale said Alexandru was removed from his home the next day. A year later, a B.C. judge ordered he be given back to his parents.

During an investigation, more information came out about the Raditas' time Waterloo, Ont., where they lived before moving to British Columbia.

Wale said Alexandru's younger brother was born prematurely, was jaundiced and required an IV and antibiotics.

"Rodica was described as irrational and insisted she would take him home despite the risks," he said.

"Rodica admitted her anger had placed him at risk and agreed to follow the doctors' advice."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 21, 2023.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press