What was supposed to be a routine traffic violation on the Interstate 90 in Idaho turned out to be something that would haunt the officers involved forever.
On a bitter cold day in December, officers from Idaho State Police pulled over a Dodge van for a simple traffic violation. It was Sergeant Justin Klitch who had made the call to pull the vehicle over.
When the sergeant walked up to the drivers window, he noticed the woman who was sitting in the driver seat showed signs of abuse and had bruises all over her face.
The situation in the back seat, however, was even more horrifying.
There was a toddler sitting up in the back seat showing clear signs of abuse as well. Officer Shane Grady was another one of the officers at the scene and regularly patrols Coeur d’Alene.
In an interview with a local news station, the officer can’t hold back his tears and is clearly overwhelmed with emotions.
Even though the man has witnessed a lot of horrible things in his police career, he calls this ‘the worst case of child abuse he’s ever seen’.
“While we were there, he [the sergeant] discovered a young boy in the back of the minivan,” Officer Grady says in an interview right before he tears up. “It’s taken me all week to type this stupid thing out,” he added.
“He had discovered a small boy in the back who was severely injured. He had bruises on his head, multiple lacerations on his stomach, his arms were stuck in a fetal position and his left eye was not functioning properly.”
The police officers immediately called for a medical team while they took the adults in the van into custody.
After a trip to the closest hospital, the injured toddler needed to be transferred to Sacred Heart Pediatric Hospital in Spokane. Officer Grady accompanied him.
The police officer was extremely concerned about the boy’s condition. The toddler, who they’re calling ‘Baby J’ because of privacy reasons, seemed to be getting worse.
His heart rate elevated from 70 to over 110 beats per minute and he was constantly crying in pain, the officer recalls in his interview. When they arrived at the hospital, medical staff immediately took him to the ER and he remained in intensive care for the time being.
“This is the worst case of this type of situation that I’ve run into. I’ve been to many fatal crashes, I used to work for a different department. Went to a lot of domestic violence situations. I’ve seen people injured, I’ve seen people hurt, but I’ve never seen this before. So I don’t know what the toll is going to be,” Officer Grady mentioned.
Doctors revealed that the 2-year-old toddler’s injuries were life-threatening, and that he suffered from extensive brain trauma. Luckily, Baby J’s condition started improving and he was able to leave the ICU in a couple of days. It’s expected that he will recover.
“Sgt. Klitch just left Sacred Heart Hospital and said Baby J is alert, engaging and playful. We are all so thankful for the hard work and care of the Sacred Heart Pediatric ICU team! Still work to do but good news nonetheless,” the Idaho State Police wrote on their Twitter account.
The driver of the van, 59-year-old Jorge Gonzalez-Vergel, was arrested.
Although he isn’t a suspect of the abuse to the woman and the baby, the man was arrested because he had a firearm in the vehicle as a felon, and was also in possession of meth, marijuana and drug-related items. He was booked into Shoshone County Jail and is still under investigation.
Because the investigation is still ongoing as well as because of privacy concerns, the identity of the woman or toddlers was not revealed.
The doctors told that the four troopers who stopped the van for a simple traffic violation have most definitely saved the boy’s life.
This is heartbreaking, but worth a minute of your time as Trooper Shane Grady describes responding to the worst case of child abuse he’s ever seen.
Thankfully, because @ispdistrict1 stepped in, that child is expected to make a full recovery.
Story tonight on @KHQLocalNews pic.twitter.com/z4zlgVH6YD
— Adam Mayer (@KHQAdam) December 14, 2018