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Before he drowned, autistic teenager sometimes wandered his neighborhood

His father is facing manslaughter charges after 16-year-old Sam Koets drowned in the family's backyard swimming pool.
Credit: wzzm

GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. — He never spoke, but neighbors in Georgetown Township say they knew Sam Koets, the 16-year-old autistic boy who drowned in his backyard pool last March.

“He was outside in the summer walking around in the yard just about every day,” recalls neighbor Diana Zeil.

“We realized he had some limitations,” adds husband Roger Zeil. “One of the times we saw him he had part of his clothes off, if not all.”

His father, Timothy Koets, is accused of involuntary manslaughter and neglect because investigators say he left Sam in the backyard, unsupervised with access to the pool. Sam was severely autistic, he didn’t speak, was not toilet trained and investigators say he had the intellectual ability of a 13-month-old baby. Sometimes he would wander away from home and end up in a neighbor’s yard.

“I got in my car and all of a sudden there was this face in my window,” says Sharon Wolters. “He didn’t act threatening or anything like that. He was just kind of wandering not knowing really where he was going, I don’t think.”

The last time anyone called the police to tell them Sam was on their property was in July 2017, just over a year and a half before his death.

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