PALMDALE (CBSLA) -- The 4-year-old Palmdale boy whose parents said he drowned -- but whose death is now being called suspicious-- begged not to be returned to his biological parents, says his maternal great-grandmother.
Eva Hernandez spoke to CBS2/KCAL9 reporter Rachel Kim Wednesday evening.
When she found out her great-grandson was dead, she lost it.
"I dropped to the ground, I fell on my knees, I told them don't tell me, I don't want to hear it, I don't want to hear it," Hernandez says.
Last Friday, 4-year-old Noah Cuatro was taken to the hospital after his parents said he nearly drowned at a community pool in Palmdale. But investigators say medical staff found trauma on his body that was not consistent with drowning.
The LA County Sheriff's Department started an investigation into Noah's death, which they are now calling suspicious.
"I wish he could still be here, and he's not," Hernandez says.
She was not only Noah's great grandmother, she also cared for him like a mother for most of his life as he was in and out of foster care. She says Noah was taken from his mother at birth and she began caring for Noah when he was three to 9-months-old. The courts returned Noah to his parents but he was removed again, Hernandez says, because of malnutrition.
"They told me he could've died so would I be willing to take him in? I said, 'Yes, I'll take him, bring him'," Hernandez says.
Hernandez says Noah was with her from ages 2 to 4 and was "happy and thriving. "
But last November, Noah was returned to his parents.
"He begged me, grandma, let me stay, don't do this to me. Don't send me back. It's hard because I remember every word he used to tell me," Hernandez says.
She said the last time she saw the little boy was about three months ago -- he was with his mother. Hernandez says he was sad and didn't look the same.
"My heart just aches for that baby, it hurts me so bad. I get angry because why did they give him back?," Hernandez says.
Sheriff's investigators say that Noah's parents were questioned, but not arrested. His siblings are now in in protective custody. Hernandez says she blames the county's Department of Children and Family Services for failing to protect Noah.
"They could've helped him, they could've done something, anything to get him out of there," Hernandez says.
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