Baby sitter suspected in tot’s injuries

EVERETT — The toddler has a broken jaw and arm, fractured ribs and a serious head injury. The 1-year-old boy has made slight improvement since he was found unconscious but doctors don’t know if he’ll fully recover.

Police believe his baby sitter is responsible for the damage.

Detectives on Monday arrested an Everett man, 31, for investigation of first-degree assault of a child. He is expected to make an appearance today in Everett District Court.

“It’s very serious in terms of abuse. We don’t know the prognosis of the child,” Everett police Sgt. Robert Goetz said. “The child is very seriously injured.”

Police were alerted to the boy’s grave condition on Sept. 13. A friend of the boy’s parents had agreed to baby-sit the child and his 3-year-old sister while the children’s parents were at work, Goetz said. The man had watched the children at least three other times.

Police were called later that day when the friend’s wife returned to their Holly Drive apartment and found the boy unconscious, Goetz said. She also told 911 dispatchers it appeared the boy’s arm was broken.

Everett firefighters raced to the apartment.

Holly Ives, who lives in the apartment complex, saw the paramedics load the unresponsive child into an ambulance.

“They ran into an apartment and I saw them carry a child out in their arms,” Ives said. “He seemed really lethargic. I just thought it was bad.”

The man told firefighters that the child had fallen down some stairs outside the apartment, according to police. He also told firefighters he had been running up the same stairs with the child under his arm when he tripped and fell, causing the boy to tumble down the stairs.

Doctors at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle detected a serious head injury and determined that the boy’s jaw, arm and ribs were broken. They also found bruises in multiple stages of healing, Goetz said.

The injuries are not believed to be accidental, he said.

The boy’s parents, who don’t live in the complex, told police that they’d noticed bruises on their son after he had been at the man’s apartment, Goetz said. They questioned the baby sitter about the bruises.

“He had an explanation for all of them. He told them the child had fallen on a toy. He also said he had fallen on a glider chair and the other kids were playing roughly with the 1-year-old,” Goetz said. “I don’t think the parents knew how serious the injuries were.”

Police suspect that the boy’s jaw was broken that day, Goetz said. It’s unclear when the other injuries happened, he said.

The boy was moved out of Harborview to an assisted-­living facility.

Jennifer Whitfield wiped away tears when she learned about the boy’s condition on Monday. She and her family live in the building. Detectives were there last week and asked if the family had heard or seen anything that day.

“I just mentioned to my husband this morning I wish I knew how he was doing,” Whitfield said. “I’d walk through fire for my children. I can’t imagine how his parents are feeling. I’ve been praying for him. We’ll keep praying for him.”

Reporter Diana Hefley: 425-339-3463 or hefley@heraldnet.com.

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