Melissa said it was her former boyfriend and father of her two children, Cristofer “Shane” Wethy, telling her there was something wrong with their then 2-month-old son. Melissa could hear Shane begging Sababstian to breathe on the other side of the line.
An MRI at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus showed Sabastian had substantial brain damage. Doctors siadthey probably won’t know how bad it is until Sabastian misses standard developmental milestones, Melissa said, adding that Sabastian is still having seizures and is suffering from other ailments.
Wethy was indicted by the recent edition of the Coshocton County Grand Jury with one count of endangering children, a second-degree felony. Melissa was present Monday in Coshocton County Common Pleas Court when Wethy was arraigned and entered a not guilty plea to the charge.
“I couldn’t even make eye contact with him. I literally couldn’t look at him,” Melissa said. “I don’t want any kind of connection with him whatsoever.”
The night in question
Melissa and Wethy met while both lived in Florida. They never married, but dated a long time and Wethy moved to Coshocton with Melissa when she wanted to be closer to family. Along with Sabastian, they have a daughter, 6-year-old Mari Jayn.
The couple broke up about a year ago, about the time Sabastian was conceived. Melissa tried to remain friendly with Wethy for the sake of the children, she said, and their relationship was fine. Wethy was not previously abusive with her or the children, according to Melissa, although he would raise his voice.
“I never quite felt comfortable once we split up. I still tried to have really good communication and contact with him because of our daughter,” McCloy said. “I played nice as much as I could and as long as I could so I could monitor things. There was something, but never a reason for me to feel that. I would say aggressive parenting, but not abusive.”
Wethy usually worked nights, but was off work and was going to keep both children for the first time overnight alone at his home, Melissa said. She helped put the kids to bed about 8:30 p.m. and then returned to her house, as she had to work early the next day.
However, that phone call from Wethy woke her up in the middle of the night. He begged her to come over right away because there was something wrong.
“He said ‘Something’s wrong, I need you to get over here.’ He dropped the phone, I heard it hit,” she said. “I could hear him say ‘Breathe, just breathe.'”
Melissa rushed over, grabbed Sabastian and put him in the car. She drove to Coshocton Regional Medical Center.
“Sabastian was just limp. He was pale, he was limp, he wasn’t responding at all,” she said. “I looked down as I’m getting in the car. As I’m sitting down, he gasps for air.”
Sabastian was flown via medical helicopter to Nationwide. Wethy went in the helicopter, while Melissa drove so they would have a vehicle in Columbus.
“He’s the more emotional parent. I’m the more level headed person. I could drive there no problem. He was hysterical,” Melissa said.
Initially doctors weren’t sure what was going on and Wethy didn’t provide any insight. A CAT scan revealed brain trauma and an MRI confirmed the shaken baby diagnosis. Melissa said they were both interviewed twice by detectives investigating the case. A warrant was issued by the Coshocton County Sheriff’s Office once the MRI was reviewed. Wethy remains in the Coshocton Justice Center on a $100,000 bond.
Sabastian initially had bleeding on his brain. On a followup visit, doctors thought he had more bleeding, but determined that scar tissue had made his brain shrink and it just looked as if the blood had increased, Melissa said.
“The blood is still there and it can be there for months they said. It can cause more and more issues. One of the things we’re watching for is increased pressure in his brain. It can still be months after and he could have symptoms of that,” she added.
Doctors believe the seizures are under control. However, Sabastian recently contracted a virus which has put him back into having seizures. This past week he went back to Nationwide Children’s Hospital with a suspected respiratory tract infection.
In the four months since Sabastian has been born, he’s been admitted to Nationwide four times. More trips are probably in the future.
Melissa said she’s spoken to several people with knowledge on shaken baby syndrome and said it’s a 50-50 shot on Sabastian developing normally as he ages. He might also need to take seizure medication for life, or could come out of the seizures fine. There’s a lot that needs to be seen yet.
Even with health insurance, medical bills are mounting. Melissa also had to drop down to part time at work in order to deal with Sabastian’s issues and medical appointments.
A GoFundMe account has been established to raise funds to help with medical costs. Two fundraisers are also planned. She said a situation like this reinforces why she wanted to move back to Coshocton from Florida.
“If something happens, this is the type of community where everybody gets behind you,” Melissa said. “There are issues, but there are also a lot of really good people here who try.”
Melissa regularly updates the Prayers for Sabastian Facebook page so the public can keep tabs on how he’s doing. She also wants a record for Sabasitan to see when he gets older so he knows just how his life started out and, hopefully, how far he’s come.
This article was originally written Coshoctontribune.com.
Scott Juceam is one of the leading advocates against Shaken Baby Syndrome. Scott’s life changed when his daughter Hannah was shaken to death by her nanny in 2006. Since then, Scott has dedicated his life to preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome and child abuse.