The mother of a Fort Collins, Colorado, toddler who was almost fatally injured by his babysitter is sharing her story as a warning to others.
"It’s not just some random person. It can be someone you’ve known your whole life. It could be a family member," mother Ashley England said. The toddler, Landon England, is now 18 months old.
In the summer of 2016, Caleb Collins was babysitting Landon, who was then 7 months old, reports KHOU in Houston.
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Collins’ wife had babysat for Landon before, and Landon's father, Stephen, had known Collins since they were about 13, explained Ashley. "I never, I would've never thought at all," she said. "I've seen him with his child, with his wife, very loving, caring compassionate."
When Collins contacted the police, he said the infant had accidentally fallen from his arms, reports the Daily Mail.
But he later told a different story. According to Fort Collins detective Jacklyn Shakless, “He admitted to my partner that he grabbed Landon by his face and threw him down on the ground and it caused him to double flip prior to smashing his head on the ground. The reason that Mr. Collins did that is because Landon was crawling toward a PlayStation cord and he didn't want the play station to be pulled off the shelf.”
The initial reports from the children's hospital regarding Landon's condition were grim. Doctors told his parents that he was breathing but unconscious and had severe head trauma -- a fractured skull and brain bleeding in the frontal lobe area.
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The said he would "likely never see, hear or have purposeful movement," according to court documents.
Doctors even raised the option of withdrawing care, but the family ruled that out completely. In the end, they made the right decision, because Landon has defied the odds and has slowly begun recovering.
He is not yet able to walk or crawl as typical of a child his age, but he does have limited movement and can see, after having been blind for several months.
"Doctors don't know what he'll be able to do," his mother admits. However, she added: "He's doing amazing for everything that he's been through and everything that's happened. ... He’s super fun. He wants to talk right now. He has lots of energy."
Ashley wants other parents to know that child abuse can come from the most unexpected of sources, as Landon's case demonstrates. "It’s not like some stranger you don’t know, it’s not like it’s somebody at a daycare center you don’t know," she said. "I just want to help other people and raise awareness."
Detective Shaklee hopes for the same. "It’s possible that’s why I’m so connected to this family, is because I can’t wrap my head around it," she said. "My head will never understand it. My heart's kind of taken over, makes me want to be a part of their lives. I think a lot of people stick their head in the sand and think stuff like this doesn't happen. Yes it does."
Collins was charged with attempted murder and child abuse causing serious bodily injury. In April he received an 18-year prison sentence.