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3-year-old Oak Harbor boy dead, father under arrest in Montana

An Oak Harbor family that moved to a small Montana town about 10 days ago has been struck by a tragedy that law enforcement is calling criminal.

A 3-year-old boy, Leo Mathis, Jr., drowned in the Prickly Pear Creek last Wednesday. His father, 26-year-old Leo Mathis, was charged in Montana Friday with negligent homicide in his son’s death.

The boy’s mother, Leslie Dillon, is trying to get Mathis’ bail reduced so they can both attend the child’s funeral services on Whidbey, the Helena Independent Record reported Tuesday.

Mathis was allegedly intoxicated when he decided to carry his son across a raging creek to a park on the other side. Mathis lost his footing and dropped his son, according to an affidavit written by the county prosecutor.

Firefighters responding to a 911 call found the boy about a half mile down the creek. He was transported to a hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Sheriff Leo Dutton of Lewis and Clark County said the family had moved to the small town of East Helena just three days prior to the accident.

Mathis is being held on $50,000 bail.

Last year, Mathis pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court April 5 to harassment (threats to kill), violation of a court order and telephone harassment. He had threatened to kill an ex-girlfriend. The judge sentenced Mathis to 60 days in jail.

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