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Parents Arrested after Infant Suffers Brain Injury

Two Santa Barbara parents were arrested last week for child endangerment after their infant daughter suffered a fractured skull and brain injury when she was dropped on the floor and her father allegedly fell on her head while under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

Maria Rodriguez
Maria Rodriguez
Joshua Rodriguez
Joshua Rodriguez

Joshua Alexander Rodriguez, 27, and Maria Christina Rodriguez, 25, were arrested for the crime of child endangerment under circumstances likely to cause great bodily harm or death, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood, spokesman for the Santa Barbara Police Department.

Police were called to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital's Pediatric Intensive Care Unit on the afternoon of Nov. 8 to conduct a child-abuse investigation after hospital staff became suspicious of the girl's injuries.

Harwood said officers discovered the infant was suffering from a potentially life-threatening brain injury and a skull fracture that caused visible deformity to her head.

The child had been brought to the hospital by her mother around 10 a.m. that day, but the girl apparently was injured the previous evening.


The parents initially stated that their daughter was hurt when she accidentally rolled off of her father’s lap and fell onto a hardwood floor, but Harwood said detectives found that the father was under the influence of drugs and alcohol when he fell on her head after she hit the floor.

The investigation revealed that the child had rolled off Rodriguez's lap at 7:45 p.m. the night before after he fell asleep while seated on a sofa. Harwood said Rodriguez was under the influence of THC and alcohol at the time and had been left alone with his daughter.

"He awoke to the sensation of his baby falling off of his lap, which he was unable to prevent," Harwood said.

The baby fell to the floor, and when Rodriguez tried to stand, he apparently fell with his knee landing on top of his daughter’s head, fracturing her skull, Harwood said.

Maria Rodriguez returned home at approximately 9 p.m., but Harwood said Rodriguez did not disclose to his wife how badly their daughter had been hurt, only stating that she had rolled off of his lap and onto the floor while she was away.

By 2 a.m., the child's mother could discern that her daughter was injured because of the bruising and swelling to her baby’s head that was becoming worse as time passed.

By 6:30 a.m., Maria Rodriguez observed that the entire right side of her daughter’s face was bruised, her right eye was swollen shut, and she could see that her head was deformed, Harwood said.

"Despite the obvious need to provide medical care for her daughter, she did not immediately do so," he said.

"Instead, Maria Rodriguez spent three hours in the morning providing transportation to other healthy family members before taking her daughter to the hospital at 10 a.m."

Rodriguez was arrested Nov. 8 and Maria Rodriguez was arrested several hours later. Both are facing charges of child endangerment under circumstances likely to cause great bodily harm or death and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail.

Rodriguez is being held with a bail amount of $500,000 and Maria Rodriguez's bail has been set at $100,000. 

The infant was placed in the custody of county Child Welfare Services, Harwood said.

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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