St. Bernard Parish, Louisiana is perhaps a well known name now due to Hurricane Katrina. With the eye passing over the eastern portion of the parish pushing a 25 foot storm surge from the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet, almost every single structure was a total loss. It was this storm surge that destroyed the parish levees and completely flooded this area. I’m sure the images are burned into everyone’s mind as they are mine. And the continued mess afterward. The dog eat dog survival techniques the residents have employed…the deplorable living conditions that continue even to this day. And so it should come as no surprise, the story of Daniel Ballard being a transient still…4 years later. But what sets this story apart is his 60 pound 14 year-old son who was discovered when authorities arrived to his RV to serve an eviction notice.

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Daniel Ballard's RV

Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the Arizona mother of this 14 year-old sent him to the loving and caring arms of his father for a short visit. She claims she had no way to track his whereabouts, that his father would allow him periodic calls but they were always strictly monitored.

After the storm, Daniel and his son lived a less than stable lifestyle, never really having a permanent residence. They lived with one of Daniel’s girlfriends for a while, in an abandoned building, and for the past month, a used RV that also served as residence to six dogs and one cat. With no running water and the only electricity being available was to power an air conditioner, when officers showed up with the eviction notice, they quickly found why the owner of the RV park wanted him gone. But it was when they saw past the smell – well, things changed for Daniel.

His 14 year-old son, who hadn’t been to a doctor nor to school in four years (because daddy said his son didn’t want to and he was being home schooled *wink*) was found to be highly emaciated, had an old fracture in one of his arms that had set incorrectly, and a clear infection in one of his feet that left it swollen and dark as the child limped around. Oh, that and he weighed as much as a coon hound. 60 pounds. He’s 14. (the average weight for a 14 year-old male is around 125 pounds)

Until the mother can prove some sort of guardianship, her son will remain a ward of the state. He’s recuperating in a local hospital. His father, 30 year-old Daniel Ballard, has been charged with cruelty of a juvenile and is being held on $25,000 bail.

A glaring question:  If the mother only sent her son down for a short visit, why didn’t she alert authorities when he didn’t return?

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