Santa Barbara – When a 16-day-old infant girl shows up at the local hospital with a fractured skull and brain injury, hospital staff is required to contact law enforcement as a mandatory course of action.
Such was the case on the afternoon of November 8th when, according to Santa Barbara Police Department Public Information Officer Sgt. Riley Harwood, SBPD was notified by the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit staff of a baby girl “suffering from a potentially life-threatening brain injury and a skull fracture that caused visible deformity to her head” who had been brought to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital with injuries sustained the night before.
The injured girl’s parents, Joshua Alexander Rodriguez, 27, and Maria Christina Rodriguez, 25, reported to hospital staff that she “was hurt when she accidentally rolled off of her father’s lap and fell onto a hardwood floor,” Harwood reported.
Investigation by SBPD Crimes Against Persons detectives, however, revealed an alternative scenario which indicated that the father, left alone with his daughter while under the influence of marijuana and alcohol, fell asleep with the infant in his lap and awakened abruptly as she tumbled to the floor. As the father attempted to quickly stand, Harwood’s report to the media indicates that he “fell with his left knee landing on top of his daughter’s head,” the impact of which crushed her fragile skull. When the mother returned home an hour later and observed swelling and bruising on the child’s head and face, she did nothing for the next 13 hours. Rather than immediately provide for the child’s welfare the following morning, Maria Rodriguez drove other family members to work and didn’t manage to get to the hospital until 10:00 a.m.
Such factors, according to Harwood, “indicate that Joshua Rodriguez was criminally negligent in caring for his daughter” while “Maria Rodriguez criminally neglected to provide care for her daughter…displaying serious disregard for her health.” Both parents were arrested and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of child endangerment under circumstances likely to cause great bodily harm or death, with their bail set at $100,000 each.
Photos: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking
EdHat: Child endangerment arrest