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Gerald B. Hyre Charged With Endangerment, assault; adopted girl paralyzed

By Stephanie Warsmith

Beacon Journal Staff Writer

An Akron father has been arrested on a charge of severing the spine of his 26-month-old Russian adoptive daughter.

Doctors say Kelsey M. Hyre is paralyzed below her belly button – and will likely never walk again.  They say her injury is rare, but sometimes seen in victims of head-on collisions wearing only lap belts.

“This is something that takes a tremendously violent event to cause,” said Dr. R. Daryl Steiner of Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Akron.

Gerald B. Hyre, 32, told doctors and police that Kelsey had suffered the injury when he accidentally dropped her Sept. 25 at his Kenmore home.

But Steiner said the explanation is inconsistent with the girl’s severe injury. He said the most likely explanation is that she was slammed against something.

“It’s like when you take a stick and hold it by both ends and slam it down on a hard, firm surface,” Steiner said.

Detectives and doctors are examining medical records to determine if either Kelsey or Nathan, the 30-month-old son the Hyres adopted from Russia, suffered previous abuse.

Steiner said both children had suffered fractured feet – in the same bone and the same foot.  While the doctor said the foot injuries are not necessarily indicative of abuse, he called them “peculiar.”

Hyre has been charged with felonious assault and felony child endangering.  He turned himself in to police Wednesday afternoon.

Hyre and his wife, Bonnie, adopted Kelsey and Nathan in January through a private agency in Medina.  Nathan has been removed from the home and placed with his maternal grandmother.

“This is unbelievable that parents would go to the trouble to adopt children from a foreign country – and then this happens,” said Connie Humble, a deputy, executive director of administrative services for the Summit County Children Services Board.

Police say Hyre was watching Kelsey and Nathan on the afternoon of Sept. 25 at the family’s home in the 1800 block of 18th Street Southwest.  He called his wife at work at her job at Walgreens, and she came home and took Kelsey to Children’s Hospital Medical Center of Akron.

After examining Kelsey, hospital officials called police.

Hyre gave detectives two explanations for Kelsey’s injury –including that he dropped the girl on the rail of her crib.  Neither account jibed with the diagnosis by Kelsey’s doctors.

“The history of the injury presented by the adoptive father was not consistent with the medical professionals’ opinion of what happened,” Akron police Lt. Sylvia Trundle said.

Detectives are unsure of a motive, Trundle said.

Officers searched Hyre’s home Wednesday afternoon.

Hyre, who works for Giant Eagle, will be arraigned at 9 a.m. today in Akron Municipal Court.

Police say Bonnie Hyre is not expected to be charged.

The Children Services Board has not previously been involved with the Hyre family. the agency is now working with police and doctors, Humble said.

“It just breaks my heart for these children,” she said.

Kelsey, who will be in CBS custody when she is released from the hospital, was listed in satisfactory condition at Children’s Wednesday afternoon.

Steiner said the girl underwent surgery Saturday to bring a piece of her spine back into alignment.  But he said there is no known medical procedure to fuse a severed spine.

“There is no way for that cord to repair itself,” the doctor said.

Kelsey will remain at Children’s for several days and will then be transferred to a rehabilitation center. Steiner said she will probably be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

Despite her ordeal, Steiner said Kelsey is “in great spirits” and called her “a real cutie.” When he visited her Wednesday afternoon, she was smiling and playing.

“Her legs will be paralyzed, but at this point, her personality is bubbly and wonderful,” he said.

2002 Oct 3