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Family member charged in baby's death after firepit mishap

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A family member is charged with criminal negligence causing death in the July 12 firepit mishap that killed a baby and injured the tot’s parents and two siblings.

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The incident, in the Lake Erie shoreline community of Port Burwell, happened during a family cookout. A relative of the affected family has told The Free Press the fire wouldn’t start and an accelerant was poured on it.

Jake Hiebert and Tina Hiebert and three of their children suffered severe injuries. The children – two girls, ages seven and one, and a four-year-old boy – suffered life-threatening injuries, and the parents, Jake, 33, and Tina, 28, were seriously injured, police said at the time of the fire. The one-year-old girl, Layla, died in hospital.

Friday, police announced that Johan Hiebert, 55, is charged with criminal negligence causing death and four counts of criminal negligence causing bodily harm. He is due to appear in court Sept. 7.

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Eva Enns, a family friend who organized an online fundraiser for the Hiebert family, shared that the conditions of each surviving victim were improving as of earlier this week. The online fundraiser had raised nearly $70,000 as of earlier this week.

FIREPIT SAFETY TIPS

  • Keep a firepit fire contained in size and away from nearby buildings or structures
  • Have a water source, such as a garden hose, nearby
  • Teach safety to kids, including keeping a distance from the fire
  • Keep flammable liquids or fuels away from the fire
  • If someone catches on fire, remember the stop, drop and roll response and call 911 immediately.

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