PHOENIX — No charges will be filed in the case of a 12-year-old boy who died of heat exhaustion after collapsing during a summer hike, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office said Monday.
County Attorney Bill Montgomery said in a statement that there is “no reasonable likelihood” of proving a felony was committed by the boyfriend of Cody Flom’s mother last year when he took the child on a hike in 110-degree weather at a north Phoenix mountain preserve.
“In fact, as tragic as the events of that day were, all available evidence negates any theory of an intentional effort to harm Cody,” Montgomery said.
Cody’s father, Brian Flom, said the decision to not prosecute is “absolutely ridiculous” and that “no one ever said that my son’s death was intentional.” He said he had expected prosecutors to file a felony charge of child abuse for placing the boy in a situation that endangered his health.
“Even it was not an intentional thing, there is still an accountability issue,” said Flom, who added that he will now pursue other legal options.
His current wife, Heather, called the decision not to file charges “totally unacceptable.”
The couple said Flom’s ex-wife and her boyfriend are both registered nurses.
The release from the County Attorney’s Office said the boyfriend, who has not been publicly identified, gave Cody about two liters of water and a piece of fruit before the hike.
About a half-mile into the hike, the child “showed signs of medical distress” and shortly thereafter fell to the ground, it said. The mother’s boyfriend, who was then 32, tried to carry Cody back to their vehicle, but he was unable to do so.
The man left Cody in the shade and returned to the vehicle to seek help, leaving the boy alone for about 15 minutes before returning with a ranger. Cody was taken to a hospital, where he later died.
An autopsy ruled that Cody’s July 22, 2016, death was an accident, caused by exposure to excessive heat.
A GoFundMe page started by Brian and Heather Flom says they “had nothing to do with the decision to go hiking that day.”
The page says Cody was a Boy Scout and was scheduled to go into the 7th grade when he died. A photograph of the child shows him wearing his Scout uniform.