At approximately 1:00 am on February 26th, a Chandler-based SWAT team burst into a family home. After kicking down the door, the officers handcuffed Brooks Bryce and Sarah Beck, parents to the three children living in the home. The raid was alarming, to say the least. Neighbors gathered to speak with officers, insisting Bryce and Beck are good parents who care for their kids deeply. However, the Arizona Department Of Child Safety (DCS) saw things differently. As a pregnant mother of three, Beck had made the choice not to vaccinate her children. The afternoon before, Sarah had taken her youngest son, Heber, to the doctor out of concern for his high temperature. Heber’s unvaccinated status, plus the worrying fever, led one doctor to report Sarah to DCS.
Like any conscientious mom, Sarah Beck took her toddler to see the family’s primary care provider when the two-year-old showed signs of a high fever. On the afternoon of February 25th, the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine clinic examined Heber, noting his extremely high temperature. The clinician told Sarah to take Heber to the emergency room - the 105-degree fever could potentially damage Heber’s brain if it was left uncontrolled. Instead of racking up a $2500 emergency room bill, Sarah continued to monitor her son’s fever on her own. She claims Heber’s temperature fell to around 102-degrees by the time the family arrived back home. All three of Sarah’s children seemed in good spirits, playing with each other in their car seats.
By the time Heber went to bed that evening, his fever had dropped to a mild 100-degrees. Sarah and Brooks felt they had made the right decision to allow Heber to recuperate at home. But when Sarah called their doctor to tell them she wouldn’t be going to the emergency room, she didn’t realize she was setting off a chain of events that would traumatize her entire family. Sarah told the doctor she was afraid the hospital might report her for not vaccinating her children, even though Arizona law allows parents to decline standard immunizations for any reason.
In desperation, Heber’s physician contacted DCS to report a toddler in need of a wellness check. They feared the child had meningitis and could deteriorate rapidly, so time was of the essence. Even though it was late in the day, DCS contacted a judge to obtain a “temporary custody notice”. Essentially, DCS and the judge determined the children in the home should be made wards of the state. If the parents were not going to seek medical help, the state would take over guardianship for the children and pursue said care.
Around 11 pm, police officers approached the family’s home and spoke with Bryce. He assured the police his son’s fever had broken and the toddler was asleep for the night. A few hours later, armed with the emergency ruling, the SWAT team set up in formation. With a shocking boom, the SWAT team broke down the family’s door and immediately handcuffed Bryce. Both parents were restrained and led outside, although neither was officially placed under arrest.
All three children were removed from the home and examined by doctors. Each child had a fever, runny nose, and other respiratory symptoms. It turns out the kids (ages 2, 4, and 6) had RSV. In most cases, RSV can be managed at home with rest and over-the-counter medicines. However, it can become especially serious for infants under the age of one.
Attorneys for the parents said the children hadn’t seen each other since being taken from their parents’ home. The parents had only had one visit with their older children. DCS officials told the parents the toddler couldn’t make that visit because he was at a medical appointment. - AZ Central
Sarah and Brooks are still waiting for the courts to relinquish custody of their children. For the time being, the kids are living with grandparents.