Charges filed against young father in suspected shaken baby syndrome case
JERSEY SHORE — A 21-year-old father surrendered Thursday to face assault-related charges for allegedly shaking his infant son so hard that it has left the baby blind and brain damaged, according to state police.
Accompanied by his attorney, Tyler Vaughn, of 290 Nippenose Road, was arraigned before District Judge Jerry C. Lepley on charges aggravated and simple assault, endangering the welfare of child and recklessly endangering.
A medical scan of the infant’s head “showed a brain injury” and soft tissue damage to his cervical spine, Trooper James Nestico said in an affidavit.
Upon being discharged from the hospital, the baby “is believed to be primarily blind. He is severely neurologically devastated,” Nestico said.
No information was available on who is taking care of the infant.
Investigators allege the infant’s injuries were inflicted by Vaughn in late November and again on the morning of Dec. 4 when the baby, born in late October, suddenly went unresponsive after his mother, Alexa Dincher, 18, picked him up.
“Tyler got up about 7:30 a.m. to feed him and Alexa got up about 7:45 a.m. with the intentions of calling a doctor about the baby’s past vomiting. She took a look at the infant and he didn’t look normal,” Nestico said in the court document.
“She said to Tyler that something was wrong with him, but Tyler said ‘No, he’s fine. I just checked on him.’ Alexa picked up the baby and he just dangled in her arms. She reported that he was gasping for air,” the trooper said.
‘Tyler grabbed the baby from her as she was holding him in her hands. Tyler took him and spun him around to face him. Alexa said that he did so in a quick manner to try CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and that Tyler may have ‘shaken’ him while trying to get air into him. Alexa related that when Tyler took the baby, the infant’s head ‘bobbled forward’ once,” Nestico said.
Tiadaghton Valley Regional police and paramedics rushed to the couple’s Nippenose Township home just before 8 a.m. to investigate a report of someone in “respiratory distress.”
When Sgt. Brian Fioretti arrived on the scene, Vaughn, who was holding the infant, told the officer that the baby had thrown up, Nestico said.
Fioretti grabbed the child, checked for a pulse and began CPR. The baby then “gasped for air,” Nestico said. Fioretti carried the infant to an arriving medic unit.
The infant was rushed first to Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital and then flown to Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, where he was admitted in critical condition with severe brain injuries and fractured ribs, Nestico said.
Further examination by medical staff revealed that the infant was a victim of “shaken baby syndrome,” the trooper said. There also was evidence of a prior “brain bleed” and it was believed the injury was “a couple weeks old,” the trooper added.
Upon being questioned, Vaughn told investigators that during the early-morning hours of Nov. 25, when he got up to feed the baby, he picked him up as he was sleeping.
“He couldn’t get the infant to wake up to eat so he ‘shook him around to get him with the program,'” Vaughn told police.
“Tyler said he knew that if the baby didn’t eat now, he would sleep for another two hours and that Tyler just wanted him to wake up. Tyler stated that he ‘shook him hard in quick vibrations,'” Nestico said in the affidavit.
Vaughn said he never shared this incident with the baby’s mother or the baby’s physician or with the doctors treating his son at Geisinger “because he knew he had done something wrong” and that what he allegedly did supposedly led to the infant being hospitalized, Nestico said.
Vaughn made no statements during the arraignment and was released on $95,000 bail.