Back in June, Hanford Police arrived to the home of Victor Gonzalez in response to suspected child abuse. What Hanford Police found was this four week-old infant boy with catastrophic injuries to his head. Further medical evaluation revealed that Victor had been previously injured with fractured ribs that were thought to have occurred a week earlier.  

Initially, Victor was taken to Hanford Community Medical Center. His injuries were so severe he was airlifted to Children’s Hospital Central California. Victor had suffered severe brain injury secondary to blunt force trauma, massive hemorrhaging and retinal tearing.  

Injuries of this type are characteristic of Shaken Baby Syndrome. After a lengthy battle, Victor died on Friday, August 15, 2008. Hanford Police Department is still actively investigating the events surrounding his injuries and death.  

Shaken Baby Syndrome is a common form of child abuse found in infants. Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) is an injurious condition caused by violent shaking of an infant or child.  The action of rapidly shaking an infant or child causes the sudden forward, backward and sideway motion of the head. During the shaking action the brain is injured from hitting against the inside of the bony skull, causing inflammation, bleeding, separation of vessels and nerve fibers in the soft brain tissue on all sides of the brain. The brain of an infant or child is very soft because it has more water content and it is easier to injure than an adult brain. Therefore, less energy is required to cause lethal injury to an infant or child’s brain.  In SBS, the eyes may get injured by the sudden increase in pressure and motion around the soft tissues that make up the delicate structure of the eyes. After the shaking, the brain and the eyes bleed inside the confined spaces they are contained in.  This bleeding causes high pressure to build within the head and eyes. The damage caused by shaking the head, brain and eye structures and the increasing high pressure that follows causes permanent injury or death for the infant or child. If death does not occur the infant or child may be left with permanent brain damage, blindness, neuromuscular disability, paralysis, deafness, learning disabilities and/or a seizure disorder. According to the CDC, 1,490 children died from abuse and neglect in the Unites States for the year 2004. This number decreased in 2005 to 1,460 deaths. Greater than 75% of these deaths occurred in children under four years of age. A total of 872,000 children were reportedly abused in that same time frame. In 2005, child protective services investigated 3.6 million cases of reported child abuse complaints, which resulted in discovery of 899,000 cases of child abuse.       

Christopher Keane
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California Child Abuse and Child Injury Lawyer
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