Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Father gets jail in tub death

by on November 09, 2013 10:59 AM

A former White Township man was sentenced Friday to serve three months to two years less one day in the Indiana County Jail for child endangerment charges relating to the accidental drowning of his 13-month-old son in February.

Indiana County Judge Thomas Bianco also sentenced Wesley Thomas, 25, to one year of probation, consecutive with the first sentence, and another year of probation, to run concurrent to the second and consecutive to the first.

Thomas was ordered to pay $807 in restitution.

He had been charged with three felony counts of endangering the welfare of children and three misdemeanor counts of recklessly endangering another person after his son, Ryden Wesley Thomas, drowned in a bathtub on Feb. 2.

The child was left unattended by his mother and Thomas’ wife, Tonya Thomas, 26, now of Clarksburg, according to police. She awaits trial in connection with the drowning death.

Tonya Thomas had left Ryden and his 2- and 3-year-old siblings alone in the bathtub for about five minutes while she tended to other chores in the house, she told police.

Upon returning to check on her children, she found Ryden lying face down in the water, unresponsive. After unsuccessful resuscitation attempts, he was pronounced dead at Indiana Regional Medical Center.

District Judge Susanne Steffee had initially ruled the evidence against Tonya Thomas was insufficient to support the charges, but after the district attorney’s office refiled the charges.

In May, after additional testimony, charges were reinstated, including: one count each of criminal homicide, aggravated assault and recklessly endangering another person, and three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

At an August preliminary hearing, Tonya Thomas was ordered to stand trial.

Prosecutors have no intention of calling Thomas as a witness at his wife’s trial, Indiana County District Attorney Patrick Dougherty said when contacted Friday after court.

An agreement had been reached in August, he said, and Wesley Thomas pleaded guilty to the three counts of endangering the welfare of children, and the three lesser charges of reckless endangerment would be dismissed.

Julie E. Martin is a staff writer for the Indiana Gazette. Among her assignments are coverage of the Apollo-Ridge School and Penns Manor Area school districts and also White Township.
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