Leader Blues

Monday, August 20, 2007

TOP STORY >>Boy injured, stepfather tries suicide

By HEATHER HARTSELL
Leader staff writer

The 2-year-old son of a Little Rock Air Force Base senior airman has been declared brain dead by doctors at Arkansas Children’s Hospital after he was found unresponsive Tuesday while under the care of his stepfather.

Lt. Martin Cass, public information officer for the Jacksonville Police Department, said Friday the family was waiting for relatives to arrive from out-of-town before taking the toddler off life support.

The stepfather, Ausencio Lopez, attempted to take his own life Wednesday by jumping off a Little Rock overpass into traffic.
Jacksonville police were dispatched to Rebsamen Medical Center at approximately 8 p.m. Tuesday for a 2-year-old white male toddler that had been taken there from LRAFB with unknown injuries, according to Cass.

The child was unconscious and unresponsive while in Rebsamen’s emergency room and was then transported to Arkansas Children’s Hospital where he was diagnosed with a closed-head injury with massive cerebral edema, Cass said.

Cass told The Leader that the child had apparently been unconscious and unresponsive for some part of the day.

“Our detectives found that the mom, Sr. Airman Sharilyn Lopez, came home for lunch and the step-father told her the child was taking a nap,” Cass said. “When she came home after work around 6:15 p.m., she showered and was told he was still asleep. She thought it was strange he was still asleep and went in to check on him. She found him on the floor, face-up and unresponsive,” he said.

“She carefully tried to get air into his lungs and called 911,” Cass added.

The boy’s parents, while at Rebsamen, told the officers he had injured himself when he fell out of his bed at home.

But doctors at Children’s Hospital say the injuries the little boy had could not have happened from a 20-inch fall from the bed, Cass said Friday. “Seeing the pictures of this little boy’s injuries makes you appreciate even more the ones you have,” Cass said.

At about 10:35 a.m. Wednesday, Ausencio Lopez climbed the railings of the Battery Street overpass in Little Rock, located next to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, and, after slitting his wrists, jumped onto I-630.

According to the Little Rock Police Department, he was on his back on the interstate’s shoulder when they arrived on scene; he was responsive, stated his name and said he could not move.

He was taken to the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, and according to the police report, his injuries were serious but not life-threatening.

Jacksonville police detectives investigating the toddler’s case went to the hospital Thursday to talk with him, Cass said, but he was in surgery and the detectives do not yet know to what extent he is involved with the toddler’s injuries.

As far as the Jacksonville police are concerned, the case is still classified as suspected child abuse but they won’t know for sure until an autopsy has been performed, Cass said, at which time charges may or may not be filed.

The Jacksonville Police Department is the investigating department on all LRAFB cases when it involves civilians. Because the child is a military dependent, he is considered a civilian, and therefore the case is being worked by the Jacksonville police.
The base’s security forces (police department) investigate cases involving military members.