Wyatt Maney was a typical toddler entering the “terrible 2s” stage of life.
Wyatt Maney was a typical toddler entering the “terrible 2s” stage of life.
He loved playing hide-and-seek in the empty kitchen cabinets. When dad fixed dinner, Wyatt had his own large spoon and pan to stir “pretend” food.
A video shows a very happy little boy with water wings learning to swim.
All that changed in December 2017, when Wyatt became a victim of extreme life-changing injuries.
“He had that whole boy mentality that I can do anything. I don’t need your help,” noted his proud dad, James Maney.
In March 4, 2017, while James was at work his wife, Kate, packed everything, took the baby and left for Washington state.
“It took me a day and a half to find out where they were,” James said. “She claimed she was just going to see her family and was on vacation.”
On March 15, James was served with divorce papers.
“As soon as she left, I went to see what legal rights I had. The police said there was nothing they could do,” James said.
The next four months, the lawyers went back and forth to see who had jurisdiction in the custody battle. Kate was allegedly living with another man by this time.
“They determined Washington had jurisdiction,” he said. “She would not let me talk to or see Wyatt.
“Once I got an attorney out there, I got visitation rights set up. They named a guardian ad litem (G.A.L.) for Wyatt. She did a full report. She met with me and with them. Then she turned the report into the court system.
“The report said I should have full custody of Wyatt,” James noted.
He said the report alleged the “mother was emotionally unstable and unable to take care of him. Her lifestyle was unstable and for Wyatt’s well being he should be with me. I have a stable work and home life."
The report increased James’ visitation rights to bring Wyatt to Cleveland, but since they had not been to court yet he did not have custody.
“I had two different visits during August and on Dec. 4. I went out there for 10 days at a time and had visits with him. However, it was structured so I only got to see him every other 24 hours. I was out there for 10 days and only got to see him five times.
The first visitation to bring him back to Cleveland was set for Dec. 26.
On Dec. 18, James received a call from his in-laws telling him Wyatt had fallen down some stairs and was in the hospital. They said Wyatt was showing improvement and being taken off a ventilator.
When James inquired about which hospital, they “would not give me information about the hospital.”
“I reached out to my insurance company. I told them my son was in the hospital and asked what they could tell me,” James said.
The insurance company did not have a hospital claim at that time, but had one on Dec. 9.
“What do you mean Dec. 9? I had no idea what had happened,” James said.
Wyatt was in the hospital from Dec. 9 to 11 for suboxone poisoning. Suboxone is a pill given to heroin addicts to help withdrawal symptoms. A report James received later showed the hospital had tagged the poisoning as possible child abuse. Neither the court nor the G.A.L. were given a report. Wyatt was released to his mother.
“At that point, I called my attorney. Wyatt’s mother’s attorney informed him that Wyatt may or may not have ingested Tylenol. The doctors checked him out and he was released in hours,” James said. “If I had been contacted, I would have been out there.”
A report James received a couple of weeks ago from Child Protective Services showed they never investigated the home after the poisoning. They went to Kate’s parents’ house because they thought he was living there. They did not investigate the boyfriend’s home.
On Dec. 19, James received a call from Child Protective Services.
“I think it is very important you get to the hospital. We don’t know if your son will make it through the night,” the CPS representative said.
“They informed me it looked like he suffered from physical abuse,” James said.
He reached out to Richmond Flowers, a friend and co-worker at Lee University’s dining facility. Flowers contacted the church they both attend — Maple Street Baptist.
“The church put together funds for me to fly out there. The church has been a huge help through all of this,” he said.
James’ lawyer filed an injunction to give him full custody and sole medical decision-making power. That resulted in another court battle between James and Kate. She alleged “my lawyer lied about how Wyatt was injured,” James said.
“The hospital’s abuse team released a document to the judge that said Wyatt’s injuries did not match up to any kind of fall," James noted.
The report said "Wyatt was shaken to the point where his right retina was dislocated and then he was thrown to the ground. He was unconscious without oxygen to the brain anywhere from 30 to 45 minutes.”
Wyatt was allegedly in the care of his mom’s boyfriend when the incident occurred. Kate and the boyfriend did not call an ambulance, but decided to take Wyatt to the hospital themselves.
The report showed Wyatt was soaking wet when he arrived at the hospital and had a body temperature of 91 to 92 degrees. He was not responsive. It took the doctors five minutes to resuscitate Wyatt. He was on extreme life support for three weeks.
James said when the doctors took Wyatt off the breathing tube, they were not optimistic about whether he would be able to breathe on his own.
“I left it in God’s hands. If it’s his time to go … if it’s God’s will … but, a miracle happened. He was able to breath on his own,” James said.
“Wyatt now suffers from deficits to his entire body. Around 60 to 65 percent of his brain is either damaged or dead. He is paraplegic. He has nutrition through a feeding tube. He has no ability to move arms and legs. He cannot talk. This has led to Wyatt being completely disabled for the rest of his life,” James said.
James noted they had done a bilateral bone scalp — removed both side of his skull to relieve the pressure. “If they hadn’t, he would have died that day.”
“Kate did not want them to take him off the breathing tube. She wanted him to be hooked to a tube for the rest of his life,” James said.
“I was glad he was able to come home. It was difficult to see him in the hospital,” James said.
Wyatt has had many setbacks. He has also started to have seizures — from two to seven a day.
“They are not normal seizures,” James said. “They have noticed during the seizures his brain waves flatline.”
“The hardest part was to see my son’s whole life taken away from him. It is harder to know as a parent it is our job to protect our children. … We continue to protect our children as they approach 50 years of age,” he said. “He will continue to suffer and not be able to enjoy any aspects of his life.”
One thing Wyatt can do is hear. He reacts to his dad’s voice.
“He enjoys listening to music and certain sounds,” James said. “He looks or turns his head in the direction of the sound. He gets excited about certain things — songs and people’s voices. That is the only thing that makes him happy.
“He is missing out on a lot. Before his injuries, he was one of those kids who saw you do something a couple of time and wanted to do it himself … he had a big personality.”
“He likes the sunlight on his face,” James said.
James and Wyatt have settled into a routine. His first medicine is at 6 a.m. and the last at midnight.
“There are days you see your child is suffering — he’s throwing up and in pain. There is nothing you can do for him.
“That is the hardest part for a parent — seeing your child suffering. You want to do everything in your power to make it fine. … It is hard that I can’t make things better for him,” James said.
They are moving to a house on one level to make it more accessible for a disabled child. There is also temporary nursing care.
James gets help from his mother, other family members and friends.
“A lot of people have been very supportive — especially my church and good friends,” he said.
“It is really hard. We are doing the best we can. Some days are good. He’s in a good mood and enjoys the day the best he can. Other days are bad for him. I am doing the best I can as a parent. It is hard that I can’t make things better for him,” James said.
James has since learned the boyfriend was charged with abuse in 2011.
“If due diligence had been done at the time of the poisoning,” James noted, “this could have been prevented."
No one has been charged in Wyatt’s abuse case. The G.A.L. said the case is being taken before a grand jury. It was determined the alleged abuse took place at the boyfriend's Oregon home. The Banner reached out to the Multnomah County (Oregon) detective in charge of the case for an update, but he did not return the call before press time. Portland is Multnomah County's principal city and across the river from Washington state.
Wyatt will turn 3 on July 17. He is no longer a typical child ... and James is no longer a typical father ... on this 2018 Father's Day.
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