VERO BEACH, Fla. - An Indian River County mother coping with the drowning death of her three year old son may soon have to deal with the law - and charges - if investigators say she could have somehow prevented the death.
Summer Stiles, 34, was interviewed extensively by investigators from the Indian River County Sheriff's Office on Thursday evening. That was just hours after the body of her son, Dakota, was found lifeless in the family's swimming pool on 14th Avenue in Vero Beach. In dark and murky pool water is where the toddler spent some of the last moments of his short life.
"That's a tragic situation," said Indian River County Sheriff Deryl Loar. "It's an unfortunate situation all the way around." The sheriff's office is leading the investigation into the role that Dakota's mother may have played in her son's death.
On July 12, there was another troubling incident at the Stiles' home. A neighbor found Dakota wandering in her backyard with no sign of his mother, according to investigators. Deputies responded to the area to find Mrs. Stiles, asking her if all of her children were accounted for. "I guess I'm missing one," Stiles told the responding deputy, according to investigation documents.
Sheriff Loar says that new charges for Stiles could soon be on the way as well as an investigation by Florida's Department of Children & Families. "DCF will either shadow our investigation or it will be handed off to them once we confer with our prosecutor with all of our facts," said Loar.
On Thursday night, sheriff's deputies questioned stiles about what happened.
Loar described Stiles' demeanor. "Very distraught," he said. "It appears that she's not only distraught but that she also recognizes the potential problems in the criminal side of this."
Investigators are waiting on results from toxicology testing for Stiles as well as an autopsy on the body of Dakota. At this time, Stiles is not facing any criminal charges.
The sheriff added that some of the deputies that responded to the incident at the Stiles' home have resources available to them to help them cope with what they experienced there as they tried to save Dakota's life.
"Three of our investigators themselves have children under six years of age and it certainly hits home," he said.