St. George father arrested for allegedly causing traumatic brain injury to 7-week-old infant

File photo: Pixabay/ Ashby C. Sorensen

ST. GEORGE, Utah, Dec. 15, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A St. George father has been arrested after allegedly causing traumatic brain injury to his 7-week-old child.

A probable cause statement from the 5th District Court of Washington County said Austin James Bohler, 25, is facing a charge of child abuse, a second-degree felony.

Bohler was arrested Thursday afternoon after St. George Police Department detectives were contacted by a case worker from Primary Children’s Hospital Wednesday.

A doctor’s report said the infant was well up until the evening of Nov. 29, when “she woke from a nap and cried for food while in the care of her father,” the statement said. “After some irritability, she became floppy and unresponsive. Although her breathing was fine during this episode, Mr. Bohler was worried enough to call his wife who was out getting dinner.”

By the time Bohler’s wife returned home, the infant seemed “fine,” the statement said. The next day, she suffered a second episode of fussiness followed by limp unresponsiveness, the statement said.

Bohler and his wife called a primary care nursing line and were referred to an outside emergency doctor in the early hours of Dec. 1. She was discharged, with the plan that she was given an EEG the next day.

“Over the course of the following day, however, she had repeated episodes of five to 10 minutes of ‘vibrating/twitching/jerking’ followed by periods of limpness and unresponsiveness,” the statement said.

On the morning of Dec. 2, an ambulance was called for the infant. It was subsequently found that the infant “presents with severe intracranial traumatic injury and secondary hypoxic ischemic injury after several days of symptoms for which the family sought care,” the statement said. “In the absence of a history of severe head injury, abusive head trauma, or severe child physical abuse must be considered the most likely cause of these injuries. She is a risk for ongoing and escalating injury should steps to assure safety at discharge not be taken.”

The Division of Child and Family Services subsequently served a warrant on the parents, and there was a foster parent standing by to assist.

On Dec. 10, Bohler and his wife were asked to provide statements; they both invoked their right to an attorney.

“Based on the documentation provided by PCMC, I determined there was probable cause to place Austin under arrest for child abuse; knowing or intentional,” the statement said.

He was transported to Washington County jail without incident, and later released on his own recognizance. The felony was committed when Bohler was on probation or parole.


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