AUSTIN (KXAN) - Police are investigating 2-year-old Carlos De La Rosa's death after doctors determined he suffered a significant brain injury.
The boy's uncle, Mark Paniagua, was taking care of him when the injury happened on Sunday at 5:22 p.m. Police responded to assist EMS at 1137 Gunter St. after Paniagua called 911 saying the toddler was not breathing and had no pulse.
The uncle told 911 he was babysitting the boy when he fell back from a sitting position and hit hit head on the concrete. He said the 2-year-old then turned blue and stopped breathing.
The boy was taken to Dell Children's Medical Center , where tests showed he was suffering from a significant brain injury - though he had no signs of the impact from the outside. Medical officials said he later died Monday at 5:45 p.m. due to his injuries, which they told police were inconsistent with the fall the uncle had reported earlier.
Court documents indicate the medical director of the hospital's Child Abuse Resource and Education program told police the toddler's injuries were "indicative of abusive head trauma that was the result of rapid acceleration and/or decelration forces that would be generated by violent shaking and/or impact. Since there is no external evidence of impact (e.g., skull fracture. scalp welling, etc), any impact would have had to have been against a soft or padded surface."
Paniagua later told Austin Police Department Homicide detectives that he "threw" the boy. The uncle told police he was also looking after several other children at the same time and was the only adult in the home during that time.
Paniagua also told police, according to documents, that the boy became upset sometime after getting to the home around 2 p.m. Sunday because he wanted to go outside and play with the other children. The man told police the toddler cried for about 30 minutes, repeatedly asking his uncle to go outside.
That's when Paniagua said he lost his temper, grabbed the boy and forcefully threw him down in the direction of an infant mattress on the ground in the corner of a bedroom. However, the uncle said the room was dark so he could not say for sure where or how his nephew landed.
Paniagua then left the room and returned 10 minutes later, taking the boy and sitting him outside on the concrete next to the other children. Paniagua said that a short time after this, the toddler became dizzy and fell over. Paniagua then called 911 when he started turning blue.
Authorities arrested Paniagua on Tuesday, and he is charged with the first-degree felony of injury to a child. He is in the Travis County Jail with a bond set at $100,000.
Doctors at Dell Children's Medical Center said child abuse cases are on the rise. Just this year, they have treated 35 cases, where two of those children died. Doctors said many times parents are not the abusers.
"When they've [CDC] studied children that have suffered child abuse - what are the most common perpertrators - then it was a nonparent person involved with the family," said Dr. Nilda Garcia, medical director of trauma services.
Doctors said child abuse is preventable.
"If you are getting angry with your child because they're being a classic child - typical crying - you step away from them and just go calm down while the child calms down," said Garcia.
You can find help at Dell's Injury Prevention Department.
The case remains under investigation by the Austin Police Department Homicide Unit. Anyone with information is asked to call the Homicide tip line at (512) 477-3588, Crime Stoppers at (512) 472-TIPS or text "Tip 103" + your message to CRIMES.
You may be eligible for a cash reward of up to $1,000 if your tip leads to an arrest or charges being filed.
This is Austin's 34th homicide of 2010. There were 20 homicides at this time in 2009.
The Dell Children's Medical Center C.A.R.E. program is recognized by the state as a Center of Excellence in matters of child abuse, and it stems from a grant the hospital received from the Department of State Health Services.
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