A man is charged with attempted homicide for allegedly severely abusing his girlfriend’s 2-year-old son at a home in Washington County, authorities said.
Police said Benjamin Lesczynski, of West Brownsville, beat the toddler, Zachary, so badly Saturday that he suffered a life-threatening brain injury. The 2-year-old was taken to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, where he was placed in a medically induced coma and underwent surgery to have part of his skull removed.
In addition to the brain injury, the boy suffered abrasions to his nose, cut and bruised eyelids and bruises to his jaw, earlobe, neck, collarbone and shoulders.
According to a criminal complaint, the boy was unresponsive, was throwing up and had blood coming out of his mouth and nose when first responders arrived at the home.
“Ben came up and he woke me up saying that my son was laying on the floor unresponsive, throwing up. So I jumped up and I ran downstairs, and when I picked him up, he was limp, his body was cold, he was breathing, but he was not responding at all,” Brittany Sumey, Zachary’s mother, said.
Sumey told investigators that before her son was taken to the hospital, Lesczynski told her they needed to get their stories straight “and to say we were all downstairs playing,” the complaint said.
Police spent much of the weekend at the home, and the incident took an emotional toll on at least one of the first responders.
“He put his head down and had to leave. He said he just couldn't take it. He said the baby had a lump on his head bigger than two of your fists,” Robert Stimmell, a neighbor, said.
When talking with investigators, Lesczynski claimed the boy had been playing and might have hit his face or might have fallen out of bed because the bedrails fall off, the complaint said. However, authorities said the boy sleeps in a toddler bed that is only 1 foot off the floor, which is carpeted.
Sumey said the last three words she heard from Zachary before he was brutally beaten by Lesczynski were “I love you.” She said that jealousy of the relationship she and her son shared is the only possible motive she could think of for the abuse.
“We were inseparable, and he would always get upset, saying that we could never spend time together because my son had to be with me all the time,” Sumey said. “Why you would hurt a 2-year-old the way that my son is right now, I have no idea. No 2-year-old should have to go through this. No mother should.”
Sapida reported that doctors are unsure if the boy will survive. Sumey said Monday night that doctors are waiting for Zachary’s oxygen levels to go down so they can perform an MRI.