Medical examiner: Foster boy's injury might have been treatable

Date: 2006-05-22

Associated Press

WAUPUN, Wis. - A 3-year-old boy who died of internal bleeding might have survived if his foster father told doctors how the boy was injured, a medical examiner said.

Doctors didn't immediately treat Camron Gardner for blunt abdominal trauma because the foster father told them Gardner had ingested something, said Dodge County Medical Examiner John Burgbacher.

Gardner bled to death from internal injuries, according to an autopsy. His foster father, Shane Marquardt, was charged with first-degree reckless homicide in Gardner's death and first-degree reckless injury in the hospitalization of Ethan Schwartz, his other foster son and Camron's 2-year-old brother.

Marquardt told investigators he flew into a rage after he found vomit in Camron's bed, and he struck the boys as hard as he punches the heavy bag he has in his basement, according to the criminal complaint.

If Marquardt had been that forthcoming with the medical staff at Waupun Memorial Hospital, doctors could have focused on the internal bleeding before the injuries became fatal, Burgbacher said.

"However, it was concealed and even with X-rays, they couldn't determine what was going on," he said.

There was no mark on Camron's abdomen that would have suggested he'd been punched, Burgbacher said.

That's not uncommon in blunt trauma cases, said Dr. Lynn Sheets, medical director at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin Child Protection Center.

Ethan suffered similar injuries but an officer in the hospital waiting room noticed him become lethargic and throw up, said Lt. Jeanne Frost of the Waupun Police Department.

That compelled doctors to hustle Ethan into an examining room, and within minutes he was being flown to Children's Hospital of Wisconsin near Milwaukee where physicians discovered the internal bleeding during exploratory surgery.

"The doctor clearly told us that Ethan would have died also (if left untreated)," said Sandy Arneson, Camron's great-aunt. The boy continues to recover, she said.

Camron also had other marks consistent with abuse, such as a bruise on his left shin and bruises on his forearm that looked as though they could have been sustained from raising his arm to protect himself, Burgbacher said.

Marquardt said a bruise on Camron's forehead was caused by a fall but the injury wasn't consistent with a fall, Burgbacher said.

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