*Posted in the opinion section, an excerpt below*
In the time it takes you to turn the page of this newspaper, a beautiful little life can be destroyed. One shake. Two shakes. Maybe more. That’s what happened to 2-week-old Lorelei Castello in 2003 after she was violently shaken by her father. As a result, Lorelei never was able to walk or talk, could barely see and had to be fed through a tube. She lived that way for more than nine years before she died in 2012 from a respiratory ailment linked to shaken baby syndrome.
Last week, her father, Joshua Castello, took responsibility for his daughter’s death by pleading guilty to second-degree manslaughter. He never denied his actions.
This is heartbreaking. And it should never happen. Babies are incredibly precious gifts and we must be keenly aware of their helplessness and fragility. It seems so obvious: Never shake a baby. Never. Absolutely never.
Truly, babies test our patience — mostly by crying. Sometimes for hours. But one irrational act by a frustrated caregiver could silence that little voice forever. A baby’s still-developing brain floats inside that tiny head, which isn’t very stable because muscles in the neck are weak and unable to support it. That’s why it’s important to place your hand beneath a baby’s head when you hold it. Shaking that little body can cause that heavy head to flop, bouncing the brain around inside the skull or damaging the spinal cord. That can lead to bruising, swelling, bleeding and permanent brain damage. Sometimes, the baby will die.
Other times, the victim will struggle through life like little Lorelei did. Castello was initially charged with assault, but her death means he’ll go to prison — three to nine years, maybe less — when he is sentenced May 23 by Oneida County Court Judge Barry M. Donalty.
“I’m sure he wishes he would have acted differently on that day,” at a time when Castello was young and probably stressed from working a lot, said his public defender, Leland McCormac, noting that his client has already spent more than the past decade haunted by the guilt from his daughter’s suffering.
“He’s endured the most severe punishment that any father could endure – the loss of his own child at his own hands,” McCormac said.
It’s a painful lesson, one others must remember.
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If you have any questions or concerns about what can be done to help babies who have been shaken, or families of babies who have died, please call Christopher Keane and The Keane Law Firm toll-free for free consultation at (888) 592-5437 (KIDS), click on contact us here, or use the web form provided at https://www.keanelaw.com