Ceres police, DA's office to meet on child drowning case

August 3, 2010 

Ceres Police Department investigators are expected to sit down with members of the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s office this afternoon to discuss the ongoing investigation into the drowning death of a Ceres toddler two weeks ago.

“Right now, we’re just making sure our ducks are in a row before we submit (the case),” Detective Sgt. James Robbins said Tuesday. “We still have other records to obtain.”

Robbins said he couldn’t give an exact timeline on when his department’s investigation will conclude and be sent to the DA’s office.

On July 18, Aureliano Valdez drowned in the family’s algae-filled pool. He was discovered by rescue workers minutes after his mother, Florcita Valdez, reported him missing. He apparently walked to the pool through an open gate.

Valdez said she was baking a cake in the nearby kitchen when she discovered he was missing.

The Police Department is investigating the death, which could lead to charges of negligence.

The meeting between the police and DA’s office comes less than 12 hours after grandfather Aureliano Ramos told a Sacramento television station that his daughter was “not capable of taking care of her kids.”

Valdez’s 14-year-old daughter, Lidia, and 8-year-old son, Cesar, had lived in the Larsen Lane home with Florcita Valdez and her boyfriend.

However, after Aureliano Valdez’s funeral on July 27, the two children were moved into foster care by Stanislaus County Child Protective Services, according to Florcita Valdez.

“I don’t know where they’re at,” she said. “I have not been told how long they will be in foster care.”

She said she’s spoken to Lidia and Cesar once on the phone since the funeral, and will be allowed to see them for the first time on Wednesday for about an hour.

She said she understands why they were taken away, but not why they couldn’t be put into the custody of family members, some of whom she says are foster parents.

Valdez admitted that Ceres police officers and CPS workers have paid numerous visits to the home over the last few years.

Ramos, the grandfather, criticized the agency, telling the TV station CPS didn't do enough to protect the children.

Following Aureliano’s death, the two children lived with her sister in the Bay Area until the week of the funeral.

“They didn’t even let me say goodbye,” she said.

As standard policy, CPS has neither confirmed nor denied a case exists on the Valdez family.

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