Toddler dies in canal

18-month-old death ruled accidental, authorities say
By: Gus Thomson, Gold Country News Service
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The death of a toddler in a Weimar canal has been ruled a tragic accident, a Placer County Sheriff?s Office spokesman said Tuesday. Lt. Mark Reed said an investigation into the Nov. 24 death of 18-month-old Zachary Mather of Weimar determined it was accidental. Zachary was walking with his stepmother at the canal in an area that was slippery and icy when both fell in. The stepmother was able to get out but her efforts to locate her stepson were unsuccessful, the Sheriff?s Office reported. Zachary was discovered at a debris grate along the Hidden Valley Canal, off Peaceful Valley Road. A dive team found the boy at a canal debris grate two hours after he disappeared. Zachary was pronounced dead after being transported to Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital in North Auburn. The coroner?s office determined drowning as the cause of death, Reed said. Lt. Ron Ashford of the Sheriff?s Office said the Pacific Gas & Electric canal is running swift and cold at this time of year, with little chance for victims who fall in to get out. The canal is several feet deep and about 10-12 feet wide, he said. The water depth in the canal had been lowered by about three feet by PG&E by the time the boy was taken out of the water at the grate, Ashford said. The rural, residential area is located off Placer Hills Road near the Weimar Crossroads exit from Interstate 80. Zachary?s death was one of seven in an Auburn-area canal since January 2009. The bodies of the other six canal victims ? all adult men ? were found in the Wise Canal or Wise Forebay. After the fifth death in the Auburn area, PG&E put up fencing to prevent people from slipping in along that section of canal.