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Military, civilian authorities investigate child’s death at Fort Drum

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FORT DRUM — Military and civilian authorities are investigating the death of a 4- or 5-year-old boy on the post Monday.

After not notifying the public about the death for two days, the Army is not yet identifying the boy or providing any information that shows whether the child died of an accident, natural causes or a homicide.

Laura C. Cerow, commissioner of the Jefferson County Department of Social Services, said she assigned staff members Monday to assist military law enforcement in the probe.

Mrs. Cerow said her office investigates almost all child fatality cases as potential child abuse reports. The department also must ensure the safety of other children of families under investigation, but Mrs. Cerow would not say if there were any other children in the family.

She declined to talk about any of the investigation’s specifics or whether a crime had occurred.

The fatality investigation is the department’s second in less than a week. On Dec. 5, state police charged Amber K. Simpson, 25, of Carthage with second-degree manslaughter in the Dec. 4 death of 6-month-old Rachel L. Wood-Main, her niece.

“It’s unusual for us to have fatalities this close together,” Mrs. Cerow said. “Our fatality numbers are pretty low. It’s just tragic.”

She said the pair of deaths has taken a toll on her staff members, who are “always very emotionally drained by these investigations.”

Jefferson County District Attorney Cindy F. Intschert confirmed her office has been advised of the investigation but said she cannot discuss an Army probe. The Jefferson County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed it is assisting in the investigation, but also declined to comment further.

The post’s public affairs office referred all questions about the investigation to Christopher P. Grey, spokesman for the Army Criminal Investigation Command, Quantico, Va., who only said no details will be disclosed until the case is “thoroughly” investigated.

The Army CID probes all deaths on Army installations, he said, so CID involvement should not lead to the assumption a crime was committed.

He said more information would be released soon but would not give a timetable for when an update would be announced.

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