Prosecutor explains why mom is charged in son’s drowning

Ottawa County

PARK TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The June drowning of a 6-year-old boy in Lake Michigan has resulted in a mother facing prison time.

The young boy’s mother, 33-year-old Miranda Rowe, pleaded guilty to failing to protect the child from the water that took his life. 

The June 6 search for little Iain Rowe went underway after he was last seen waist deep in the lake. 

A courtesy photo of Iain Rowe.

His body was found along the rocks of the Holland channel. 

A community came together to grieve for the Grand Haven Christian School student who was known for being always ready to give a hug. 

And while the belief was that this was a tragedy perhaps caused by a riptide, the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office was investigating the circumstances and found that the boy had been left unattended by his mother for as long as 15 minutes as she went to the bathroom. 

“She left her child unattended in the water on a red flag day with waves that were probably taller than he was,” said Ottawa County Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Lee Fisher of the boy’s mother.

Rowe was in the midst of a divorce with the boy’s father, Stephen, when she took the boy to the lakeshore. 

Fisher says the mother knew the boy could not swim and that he did not have a life jacket. 

“That is definitely the kind of conduct that falls under the guise of child abuse,” Fisher said, adding that there is no evidence that a rip current played a part in the drowning. 

Rowe pleaded guilty to third-degree child abuse, which requires actions that knowingly expose a child to physical harm and, in fact, lead to the child being harmed. 

Third-degree child abuse carries a potential prison sentence of two years behind bars. 

“I don’t believe that prison is necessarily appropriate in this case,” Fisher said.

The mother is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 28.

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