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Makai Wanganeen, 7, who died from ‘serious health issues’ pictured as SA Police investigate

IMAGE: Little boy, 7, who died of ‘serious health problems’ as police launch investigation into possible criminal neglect – state’s second in a month

  • Makai, seven, was taken to hospital in Adelaide but sadly died later that day
  • A special task force is now investigating whether his death was due to neglect
  • An autopsy revealed that the little boy had some serious health problems
  • His situation is eerily similar to Charlie, six, who died of malnutrition in July

A seven-year-old boy from Adelaide who died of ‘serious health problems’ has been photographed for the first time – as police launched the state’s second major investigation into possible criminal neglect last month.

Makai Wanganeen was “very ill” on February 10 when he was taken from his home in Craigmore, in the north of the city, to Lyell McEwin Hospital before being transferred to Women’s and Children’s Hospital.

He died later that night, while a special task force is now investigating whether his death was due to neglect.

The investigation is being conducted by the same investigators investigating the death of six-year-old Charlie, who died in July — reportedly of malnutrition at her family’s government-run home in Munno Para — also in the city’s northern suburbs.

Detectives investigate Makai’s five siblings, aged between seven and 16.

Pictured: Makai Wanganeen, seven, who died earlier this year from 'serious health problems'

Pictured: Makai Wanganeen, seven, who died earlier this year from ‘serious health problems’

Makai was taken from his home in Craigmore, in the north of the city, to the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide (pictured), where he died on February 10.

Makai was taken from his home in Craigmore, in the north of the city, to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Adelaide (pictured), where he died on February 10.

Makai’s father Shane Wanganeen shared his heartbreak in a heartbreaking Facebook post in March on the day of his son’s funeral.

“From the bottom of my heart I would like to express my appreciation to everyone who has helped and supported me during this tragic event,” he said on his page, which has since been deleted.

“Words can’t really express how much (I) I feel and what I really want to say to all of you.”

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South Australia Police Superintendent Des Bray said at a news conference Monday that an autopsy revealed the boy had a number of serious health problems.

“The cause of death on its own was not enough to cause concern as it was a serious, recognized health problem,” he said.

Ten days after his death, information was obtained from “several child protection authorities” and handed over to the police.

‘Shortly after that, researchers started assessing amounts of material and got advice from a pediatric expert,’ Supt. said Bray.

“They were of the opinion that there were sufficient grounds to initiate a criminal investigation into (alleged) homicide.”

The investigation will determine whether anyone was responsible for Makai’s death, or the alleged neglect of his siblings – who have all lived with their father since November 2020.

The boy’s mother was not living with him when he died.

Charlie (pictured) was six when she was taken to Lyell McEwin Hospital in July.  She died of malnutrition

Charlie (pictured) was six when she was taken to Lyell McEwin Hospital in July. She died of malnutrition

The house Charlie died in was surrounded by junk - old toys, a tent, bicycles and a disused freezer

The house Charlie died in was surrounded by junk – old toys, a tent, bicycles and a disused freezer

When asked if Makai’s death was similar to Charlie’s, he said: “There is (alleged) neglect and abuse that we think has happened over time, but it doesn’t all share the same characteristics as that of Charlie.’

Charlie was found unresponsive at her family’s home in Munno Para, in the northern suburbs of Adelaide, in the early hours of Friday, July 15.

Her death sparked a major crime investigation by the police and has resulted in her five siblings being placed in the care of the state as their mother was under investigation for alleged criminal neglect.

It was later revealed that Charlie was suffering from celiac disease – a serious immune disorder in which the digestive system reacts to gluten.

Child protection officers visited Charlie two days before her death, but seemed unconcerned about her well-being.

Supported Bray said criminal neglect allegedly occurs when a person with a duty of care to a child has not taken all reasonable steps to protect them from harm, and a child is harmed or dies as a result of that neglect.

The offense carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison.

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