'We live to die so we can go to heaven'

CRESWELL, Ore. -- On Friday, Lane County Sheriff's Office deputies arrested the parents of 16-year-old Austin Sprout who died in December.

Deputies said Brandi and Russel Bellew didn't take Sprout to a doctor because of their faith. They face manslaughter charges. The arrests come after a seven-week investigation by the Lane County Sheriff's Office.

"The investigation has determined that medical professionals believe that the illness he suffered was treatable if he had been provided medical care," said Capt. Byron Trapp from Lane County Sheriff's Office. "That is what the arrests are based on, is the withholding of medical care in this case that allowed Austin to die."

Authorities would not say what Sprout died of, but they said his medical condition was highly treatable.

"They failed to seek appropriate medical care to resolve that, then that's contrary to state law," Trapp said.

Last year, the Oregon legislature changed the law regarding faith healing. Now, faith-based healing can no longer be used as a defense against manslaughter charges.

KVAL spoke with Sprout's uncle, Shawn Sprout. The family is part of the General Assembly Church of the First Born in Pleasant Hill. Shawn said the church believes in prayer and healing.

"We trust in God for everything. We trusted him to take care of our illnesses and heal us," Shawn Sprout said.

"They all loved him dearly, and obviously it wasn't our wish to have him pass away obviously, but it wasn't in our hands," he said.

Shawn Sprout said Austin loved playing basketball and hunting, and he was very close with his family.

Shawn Sprout said Austin's parents gave their son the option to seek medical care when he was sick, but that it was Austin's choice not to see a doctor.

"It was his choice to trust in God. And obviously, if he wanted to call the hospital, it was up to him and we gave that option to him so it was his choice to trust in God," said Shawn Sprout.

Sprout said he believes Austin passed away because it was God's will.

"It's what we live for. We live to die so we can go to heaven."