Brian Flom's 12-year old son, Cody, died after a hike in the sweltering desert heat. As he searches for clues to his own son's death, he's calling on lawmakers to protect other children from suffering the same fate as Cody.
"We did this for the animals. There's a sign posted that says it is now illegal as of so and so to walk your dog if it's 100 degrees or more," said Flom, motioning toward a sign at the trailhead to Phoenix's Sonoran Desert Preserve. Earlier this summer, the Phoenix Parks and Recreation Board enacted the new rule that affects hikers with dogs.
The original proposal would have also closed the city's mountain preserves to people when the temperature reaches 110 degrees. It was shot down by the board after public outcry.
"If there was a sign on there that said, 'No pets, no minors if it's over 100 degrees,' maybe with that visual deterrent, my son would still be here," said Flom.
Phoenix police are investigating the circumstances surrounding Cody's death. Investigators have released few details. But we know that Cody went on a hike on the afternoon of July 22 with his mother's new boyfriend. His mother and father divorced years ago and the parents split custody.
At some point in the afternoon, police say the boyfriend told them Cody became ill. The temperature in the Valley that day was at least 110 degrees. Police say the man told them he was unable to call 911 from the trail. The reason is not clear at this time. So he left Cody while he hiked to his car to make the call.
Police say the 911 call came in at 4 p.m., but they have not released the recording of the call. Firefighters pulled Cody off the trail and he was airlifted to Phoenix Children's Hospital, where he later died.
The Maricopa County Medical Examiner's Office performed the autopsy last week, but the cause of death is pending, according to Flom. He said the examiner is waiting for toxicology results and an electrolyte screen to be performed, which could take weeks.
"I don't think we have the whole story. That's what's going through my mind," said Flom, as he hiked up the trail to the spot where firefighters found Cody.
A homemade charm marks the spot on the trail. It is located on a switchback, just a quarter mile from the trailhead.
"I was hoping to find something that would trigger, 'Well, this makes sense,'" said Flom.
He still has questions about why his ex-wife's boyfriend did not call 911 from the trail, why Cody's body appeared to have multiple cuts and bruises, and how long he was on the mountain. Flom says he has not spoken to the boyfriend and has had little contact with his ex-wife since their son's death. Flom says he would never have approved of a hike on a day when the temperature was so high.
"All I want, I'll be honest with you, is just the truth. I wish that we could just find out what the truth is," said Flom.
Flom's friends and relatives have begun using social media to promote the search for answers and the effort to enact new rules or laws that would protect children from hiking in dangerously hot conditions. They tag their posts about Cody with the #CodysVoice moniker.
They started a GoFundMe account. Area businesses are also planning fundraisers, including donating 20 percent of the proceeds from food orders on Wednesday, August 10 between 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. at the following restaurants:
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