GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WFLA) — Two Florida parents were charged with child abuse after police said they waited days to bring a baby to the hospital with life-threatening injuries.
According to arrest reports obtained by the Gainesville Sun, Emma Belle Smithey, 19, brought her 4-month-old son to UF Health Shands Children’s Hospital on Tuesday, saying she accidentally hit the baby’s head on a door frame.
The baby reportedly suffered “significant inflicted traumatic injuries”, including a brain bleed, eye hemorrhaging, and bruising on his neck, collar bone, behind his ear and on his lower back and hand.
Smithey’s story later changed, according to the Gainesville Police Department. She claimed she never told doctors she hurt the child and insisted his father, Timothy Jacob Smith, 22, accidentally hit the boy’s head against the door frame on Jan. 1.
This contradicted Smith’s account of events. He reportedly told officers the baby was “abnormally fussy and wouldn’t stop crying” on Dec. 30, so he squeezed the baby tight to his chest until he stopped.
Smith reportedly told police this may have resulted in the bruising found on the baby’s neck and he may have been too forceful shaking the infant. Officers said Smith told them he also dropped the baby from an “abnormal height” into his crib later that night.
The baby woke up the next morning “crying hysterically”, Smith told officers. He reportedly picked up the baby and turned his body so quickly that he “slammed” his head into the bathroom door frame, according to the arrest report.
Officers said Smith insisted that he did not intend to hurt the baby and was just trying to get him to stop crying.
Smithey told officers the boy was lethargic, crying, and throwing up in the days before she took him to the hospital. He also suffered several seizure-like episodes where he lost control of his limbs and went unresponsive, according to the arrest report.
Police said it is not known if the baby will survive. UF Health medical staff told officers the parents waiting days to bring him in for care contributed to the severity of his injuries.
Smith is charged with child neglect with great bodily harm, cruelty toward a child, and aggravated child abuse, while Smithey is charged with child neglect with great bodily harm.