Girl, 2, suffers ‘near fatal injuries' in alleged assault; 2 facing charges


WEST KITTANNING, Pa. - A man and woman are facing charges in connection with the alleged assault of a 2-year-old girl, police said.

Investigators said they were first alerted about the girl on Oct. 26 when an employee at ACMH Hospital in East Franklin suspected child abuse.

According to police, the girl’s injuries -- which doctors said she nearly died from -- were suffered while she was in 22-year-old Bryant Yeaples’ care.

Investigators said the girl’s mother, 23-year-old Heather Ann Barden, left the 2-year-old and two other children with Yeaples at her Kittanning home while she was at work on Oct. 25.

Barden told police that the girl was sluggish and unable to stand on her own when she woke up on Oct. 26.

By time the child arrived at ACMH, hospital officials said she was unresponsive and had multiple facial bruises. She was then flown to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where she was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit.

According to police, doctors said the girl's injuries included serious wounds to her liver, pancreas, kidneys, small intestine, stomach and ribs. There was blood in her abdominal cavity, fluid in her lungs and air outside the lungs in her chest cavity, police said.

According to court documents, she had also suffered multiple facial bruises, massive face and head swelling and bruising on her back and all extremities.

The doctor said the girl's injuries happened from “extraordinarily violent” actions toward her, including being repeatedly kicked and punched, and were inflicted by an adult.

State police questioned Yeaples that day. He claimed he had flicked her mouth with his fingers and put her in a corner after the girl bit his hand.

He claimed the girl had suffered “some type of seizure” the night of Oct. 25, but said she was breathing properly and did not seek medical care for her.

He claimed bruises on the girl's back were from him patting her, possibly too hard, and squeezing her stomach after she swallowed water during a bath a couple of days before. He said one of the other children had sat on her head, and that she had stopped breathing.

Yeaples allegedly told police he did not take the girl to the hospital because he got all of the water out and she seemed fine.

He also claimed to have performed the Heimlich maneuver on the girl about a week before after the girl had choked on four cigarette butts and was unable to breathe. He did not seek medical care for her after that incident, either.

However, the doctor at Children's Hospital said the stories did not explain the girl's injuries.

The doctor “stated that this case was a near-fatality and (the girl) would have died without medical intervention,” according to court documents.

Police charged Yeaples with aggravated and simple assault, endangering the welfare of children and recklessly endangering another person. He was arraigned before Judge James Andring and placed in the Armstrong County Jail on $50,000 bond.

Barden was arrested Wednesday and charged with not seeking medical attention for the child, authorities said.

Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.