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Officer Stops Van For Traffic Violation, Reaches For Handcuffs When He Sees 2-Year-Old In Back Seat

Note: we are republishing this story in light of recent reports that show child abuse is on the rise amid the COVID-19 pandemic. More on this here:

Doctors have hailed an Idaho State Police sergeant for saving the life of a 2-year-old boy who had been badly beaten.

Sergeant Justin Klitch helped arrest a man trafficking meth after he discovered a two-year-old in the car with life-threatening injuries during a routine traffic stop on I-90 in Shoshone County.

Klitch stated that he didn't want the story to be all about him, and that Specialist Shane Grady, Specialist Jerry Stemm, Trooper Enrique Llerenas and Corporal Kevin Kessler had helped him out, and so had the ER nurses. He maintained that this was one of the worst cases of child abuse he had ever seen.

"I've never seen anything quite as traumatic as this to a small child, innocent child," he said.

59-year-old Jorge Gonzalez-Vergel was driving the van, with a 32-year-old woman and two children, aged 2 and 1 in the car. Klitch noticed signs of physical trauma on the woman’s face and multiple injuries on the 2-year-old boy. When he realized that the child wasn't entirely responsive, he called in medics.

"But what really made me know things were serious was the paramedic had a look on his face of panic," Klitch said.

Photo Credit: KREM 2 News

Photo Credit: KREM 2 News

The child was taken to the Sacred Heart Hospital ICU and admitted with life-threatening injuries, including multiple brain injuries. He had several visible marks and scars that indicated severe child abuse. Doctors stated that if it wasn't for that traffic stop, the child may not have survived.

"Based on what I saw and how severely beaten this child had been, I had never seen anything like that in my entire life," Klitch said.

The toddler was discharged from ICU and Sgt. Klitch stated that he was alert, engaged and playful.

Upon further investigation, troopers found meth, marijuana and drug paraphernalia in the van.

The Redmond, Washington Police Department is investigating the abuse, and investigators have stated that Gonzalez-Vergel is not a suspect at this time.

Photo Credit: KREM 2 News

Photo Credit: KREM 2 News

Klitch stated that the stop was an example of how ISP troopers are trained to spot a number of things during a traffic stop, and make sure protecting citizens is their priority.

"I can't be more proud of my agency and the troopers at the scene. But honestly, I think the true heroes here are the medical staff who treated the kid initially," he said.

The 1-year-old was taken to Shoshone Medical Center for evaluation and was put in temporary custody of the State of Idaho.

Gonzalez-Vergel was arrested and booked into the Shoshone County Jail on charges of felony possession of a firearm and trafficking methamphetamine.

Sources: KREM 2

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