2 arrested after death of 1 child, injuries to another child

West Virginia
Preston Fisher and Erica Hamrick_1558380588495.jpg.jpg

DIANA, W.Va. – West Virginia State Police arrested a man and woman in Webster County after one child died and another child was injured.

On May 8, police said a 2-month-old boy went to Webster County Memorial Hospital after his father, Preston Fisher, 23, of Diana, reported that he found the child unresponsive and not breathing.  A medical helicopter flew the boy to Ruby Memorial Hospital, where doctors found several bilateral rib fractures, which they believed could be non-accidental trauma, according to a criminal complaint.  Doctors could not perform confirmatory testing because the child was on life support.  Police said the child died on or about May 10.

On May 9, police said they spoke with Fisher, who told them he was at home with three children, including the boy who died, on May 8.  The boy’s twin sibling and a 4-year-old child were also present, according to court documents.  Fisher said he went into the kitchen, and when he returned to the bedroom, he found the boy on the bed unresponsive and not breathing, according to a criminal complaint.  Fisher said he started CPR, got another man to assist him and called 911.

Police said Fisher also told them that the boy who died and his twin sibling had rolled off the bed approximately three weeks to a month prior.  Fisher also admitted to troopers that he had been using methamphetamine, and that he last used the drug on the evening the boy went to the hospital, according to police.

Also on May 9, state police spoke with the boy’s mother, Erica Hamrick, 28, of Diana, who said she was at the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources the day before when she got a call that the boy was being taken to the hospital.  Hamrick also stated that Fisher was home with the children when she left to go to the DHHR office.

Hamrick told troopers that the boy had rolled off the couch sometime within the last two weeks, and that, on separate occasions, both the boy and his twin sibling, a girl, had rolled off the bed approximately three weeks to a month prior, according to a criminal complaint.  She also told police that the infants could roll over very well.

Police said Hamrick also told them the girl had “slipped off her lap” and fallen to the floor while she was feeding her sometime within the last month.

Hamrick admitted to police that she had used methamphetamine on multiple occasions while the children were in her care, with her last usage being approximately May 7; and that she had smoked marijuana on multiple occasions while the children were in her care, with her last usage being approximately April 27, according to a criminal complaint.

On or about May 9, police said one of the attending physicians stated that the twins were not able to roll over and could not roll off the bed or couch as described by Fisher and Hamrick.  The doctor also stated that the girl had also been admitted to Ruby Memorial Hospital, and the hospital was doing an abusive trauma workup and evaluation of her because a chest X-ray had some “concerning issues,” according to a criminal complaint.

Another doctor for the girl at Ruby Memorial Hospital stated that the radiology report for the girl showed multiple, healing bilateral rib fractures of right ribs 5-7 and left ribs 5-9, according to police.  The doctor also indicated that the statement of the girl rolling off a couch or bed is not consistent with the child’s age and physical abilities, according to a criminal complaint.  The doctor further stated that the rib fractures would require a great deal of force to cause such injuries, and that the injuries are not consistent with a fall.  The doctor concluded that the cause of the injuries appears to be non-accidental trauma, according to police.

On or about May 13, a trooper attended the autopsy for the boy.  However, police are awaiting further testing results and a cause of death from the medical examiner’s office before considering what charges should be filed related to the boy’s injuries and death, according to a criminal complaint.

Fisher and Hamrick are each charged with malicious wounding; child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury; assault during the commission of a felony; and two counts of gross child neglect creating a substantial risk of death or serious bodily injury.  They are in Central Regional Jail.

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