WHITE COUNTY, Ark. — A family in White County is mourning the drowning death of a 6-year-old days before his birthday, but while one parent is organizing the funeral, the other is behind bars.
Deputies with White County Sheriff’s Office were called to Riverview Road just around 5:15 P.M. last Wednesday after Seth Garner was reported missing by his parents.
Authorities used K-9s to track the child’s scent to the Little Red River, and about 300 yards away from his home, a deputy found Seth unresponsive underwater.
Life-saving efforts were unsuccessful, and the boy was pronounced dead at the hospital.
“It is a horrible thing to happen, but these things do happen, unfortunately fairly regularly,” WCSO Lt. Scott Seiders said. “Not often with a parent we are deeming culpable.”
Authorities say Seth’s father, 37-year-old Maxwell Garner, was the only parent with him when he went missing. Investigators suspected he was intoxicated and filed a warrant to test his blood.
Maxwell Garner was arrested that night and is currently in the White County Jail. He is being held on $100,000 bond and faces charges of manslaughter and first-degree endangering the welfare of a minor.
“Obviously this is horrible, and nobody intended for this child to die, right,” Seiders said Monday. “I mean this is not a murder. Nobody wanted this to happen, but if you are responsible for a child, you need to be clearheaded and not engaged in activities that reduce your ability to supervise children.”
Seth Garner was autistic and mostly nonverbal according to his mother, Amanda Garner. While she was not ready for an interview Monday, she still remembered her son as sweet and adventurous.
“He was the sweetest, most affectionate little boy who was always singing,” she wrote in a message to KARK 4 News. “He had no fear and loved water and to explore nature.”
The family has set up a fund for Seth’s funeral expenses and is also asking for prayers.