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September 22, 2014

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Father charged in drowning of 2-year-old daughter

Image

courtesy of metro police

Francisco Vidal

Drowning

A locked door and a more attentive father could have saved the life of 2-year-old Khloe Vidal, Metro Police concluded after the child drowned earlier this month.

Khloe was found floating in a neighbor’s swimming pool after walking out the front door of her home in the 7700 block of Morning Cove Court — near Bradley and Farm roads — on Oct. 17 while her sole caretaker and father, Francisco “Frank” Vidal, slept undisturbed for more than 7 hours, according to a criminal complaint released today.

Vidal, 26, was arrested and charged on Thursday with child neglect causing substantial bodily harm resulting in death, a category B felony punishable by up to 20 years in state prison.

According to the complaint, the child’s mother, Sandra Scharas, 32, told Metro Police investigators that she went to work about 9 a.m. that day while Khloe slept inside her crib. At the time, Vidal was awake and aware that he was alone with the child, said Scharas, who left the front door unlocked because she had recently lost her only key.

The child had been able to open the front door before, Vidal later told investigators, so he had previously purchased a slide lock intended to keep her from fidgeting with the door’s deadbolt. But he never installed the device, and on the day that Khloe died, he didn’t check the door to make sure it was locked despite knowing the girl could easily get out.

When Scharas came home from work, the child was missing and the front door was open. Vidal was reportedly asleep on a couch, so she shook him awake and began knocking on neighbors’ doors to look for the child.

Neighbors David Davis and Kari Davis, who live about four doors away from Vidal and Scharas, told police they had noticed what appeared to be a piece of pizza on their back patio that day and didn’t find it suspicious until Scharas asked if they had seen her missing daughter.

David Davis said he went to the backyard of his home to check the area and saw a small foot poking out from underneath their swimming pool cover.

It was Khloe’s.

He removed the child from the water and tended to her until paramedics arrived and rushed her to Centennial Hills.

Vidal reportedly refused to come to the hospital, incredulous when told by police that doctors were trying to resuscitate her. Medical staff tried for more than an hour to bring her back to life, but by then her tiny body had grown stiff. She was pronounced dead at 8:10 p.m.

Friends of the couple reportedly told Metro Police investigator Cynthia Sauchak that Vidal had a history of drug use and that he abused Scharas, though the suspect denied being under the influence of drugs or alcohol while he was caring for Khloe the day of the drowning. Family friend Melanie DeWitt reportedly told officers that she had considered calling Child Protective Services to report the alleged abuse, but she did not want to upset Scharas. DeWitt reportedly told Sauchak that she regretted not having called CPS.

According to a public disclosure form released the day of the drowning, Khloe and her family have never before been investigated by the agency.

When questioned by Sauchak about the girl’s death, Vidal reportedly said the incident was “straightforward": He fell asleep, Khloe got out of the house, and she fell into a neighbor’s pool.

A preliminary hearing for his case is scheduled for Nov. 11.

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