As details start to trickle in about the circumstances that led to the death of 7-month-old Aaden Moreno last Sunday in Middletown, the State's Child Advocate is looking at whether this tragedy was avoidable.
When Adrienne Oyola, 19, filed for a temporary restraining order against Tony Moreno, her estranged boyfriend, and father of their 7-month-old son Aaden, she feared for her and her son's life. Oyola told the court that Moreno had made numerous death threats against her and their son. The judge granted Oyola the temporary order, but on June 29th Judge Barry C. Pinkus denied her request for a permanent restraining order, telling Oyola that he didn't think Moreno posed an imminent threat.
Last Sunday Tony Moreno proved Judge Pinkus wrong, and made good on at least one of his threats, throwing his 7-month-old son off the Arrigoni Bridge in Middletown before jumping into the Connecticut River himself. Aaden's body was found a few days later, and Moreno, who survived the fall, has been charged with the murder of his son. This tragedy has many wondering: was Aaden Moreno's death preventable?
"These deaths are always preventable," says Connecticut's Child Advocate Sarah Eagan. "There's always something that we can learn, that's how systems improve over time, they improve sometimes through terrible events that lead us to make important changes."
Eagan says Adrienne Oyalas compelling testimony in court should have raised red flags throughout the various systems that were aware of the family's situation, including the judicial system. "This is a family situation where there were many risk factors for lethality and violence," said Eagan. "We want to know when emergency systems like law enforcement, the courts and child welfare encounter a family with these type of risk factors, how well-equipped are they to know those factors, and how equipped they are to respond."
Eagan says Aaden's death will be investigated by the Child Fatality Review Panel, which is operated through the Office of the Child Advocate.