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Documents claim Bartonville’s fire chief asked firefighter, ‘Haven’t we all responded to a call drunk before?’

Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 10:45 PM CDT
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BARTONVILLE (Heart of Illinois ABC) - Sources say 20-year-old Bartonville volunteer firefighter Caden Davis was put on probation following a call that led to an argument about alcohol. While village leaders will not say anything publicly, this incident happened on the way to and at the scene of an unresponsive child. Those details were described through a Freedom of Information Act request in writing and video.

The incident happened in February, but sources tell us Davis was not put on probation until after Heart of Illinois ABC started asking question in early April. It was the Bartonville Police Department that conducted the investigation into the Bartonville firefighter. The documents also claim Fire Chief Mike Chetham told another firefighter, “Haven’t we all responded to a call drunk before?”

February 20th, Bartonville volunteer firefighters were called to the home of an unresponsive 4-year-old. The boy’s father, Shane Bowcott, said it was one of the worst moments of his life.

“Anybody who knows if you lose oxygen to your brain for 10 minutes it’s not good,” said Bowcott.

Bowcott said Bartonville Police and AMT arrived before the firefighters. But, what he didn’t know was what led up to first responders getting there.

“I had tried a sip of a cider beer,” said Davis, while being interviewed by a Bartonville police officer.

In an interview with Bartonville police, Davis admitted to having a sip of alcohol earlier in the day before driving a fire truck. In police interviews with fellow firefighters, they said Davis told them a different story.

“He told us 2 or three beers, a couple beers,” said one witness.

“And Caden he admitted to having a couple earlier in the day?” asked the officer, “Yep that’s what he said when we were in the truck,” responded a witness.

“He said he had two and then he switched it and said he only had four or five,” said another witness.

“He said I only had a couple earlier in the day,” said a different witness.

But, they all agreed they could smell alcohol on him.

“It smelled like alcohol, I mean beer,” said a witness when speaking to police.

In fact, Davis himself did not disagree.

“I smelled of alcohol it was probably on my clothes. I mean I did wipe off the bar a couple times with a rag,” said Davis to the officer.

Firefighters say it reeked of alcohol in the truck and they attempted to get him to pull over before they arrived to the 4-year-old’s home.

“He’s like pull the truck over, he said he’s fine and then he said it again just pull the ******* truck over and then Caden’s like **** off I’m fine,” said a witness to the officer.

They also said Davis was not acting like himself that night. They said he was being unusually loud and acting frantic.

“Caden wasn’t acting like Caden, I mean no where near what he normally acts like,” said another witness to the officer.

The documents show the firefighters reported it to their chief, but their was no immediate action. In those same documents, another firefighter says the chief said, “Haven’t we all responded to a call drunk before?”

“I called chief that night and hey what do you want me to do and it was a ‘uh, uh’ and that’s a bad situation,” said a witness.

Sources say it was not until village officials asked why nothing was being done, eight weeks after the incident happened. Sources say Davis was placed on probation a week after we started asking questions, although village officials will not confirm it.

A witness told the officer Davis knew what he did was wrong from the begining.

“He was apologizing all over himself, he knew he screwed up,” said the witness.

The 4-year-old’s family said their little boy is okay now, but still don’t want to think about what could of happened that day.

“After about two and a half three minutes of my son not moving or not responding and his eyes in the back of head and his tongue sticking out the only thing that mattered was what are we going to do,” said Bowcott.

We have reached out to the Fire and Police Chiefs as well as the Mayor and no one has returned our call. We’ve also reached out to the firefighters including Caden Davis. Davis says there was no investigation, no illegal activity, and the information we received in the FOIA documents is false.

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