A father and stepmother are being charged over the killing of their 11-year-old son, Zachary, who died on March 11 from forced water intoxication. Ryan and Tara Sabin of Black Forest, Colorado are being charged with first-degree murder, child abuse, and child abuse resulting in death.
A coroner found that Zachary was told to drink four 24-ounce bottles of water within four hours without eating. They also found that Zachary suffered blunt force trauma, CBS Denver reports.
The couple allegedly required Zachary to drink two water bottles a day, believing his urine “smelled strongly.” They also said he had a urinary problem that required him to wear diapers to bed because of bedwetting.
The Full Story
On the evening of March 10, Ryan Sabin arrived home to find Zachary drinking water because Tara had told him to. Between sips of water, he was throwing up. Ryan told Zachary to “chug” the water instead because slow drinking was causing him to throw up.
While the family ate dinner, Zachary continued to drink his water and was kept from joining them. When the family’s other children went to bed, Ryan told authorities that Zachary was lying on the floor, saying that he couldn’t drink water and that his legs were hurting.
Ryan describes what happens next as a “tantrum.” Ryan told authorities he kicked Zachary twice, and that he told him he would kick him harder if he didn’t get up. When Ryan tried to pick him up, he let go of Zachary, making him hit his head on the ground.
When they went to put Zachary to bed, the couple reports that Zachary was “grunting and making other unintelligble noises.”
The next morning, Ryan went to wake up Zachary, only to find him unresponsive. Authorities arrived on the scene and declared him dead.
Deadly Water Intoxication
Drinking too much water, like Zachary had, is known as water intoxication. It can disturb a person’s electrolyte balance, leading to a rapid decrease in sodium levels and possible death.
For children, symptoms can be a change in behavior: confusion, drowsiness, poor coordination. They can also experience blurred vision, nausea, irregular breathing, weakness, and muscle cramps and twitching.