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Ridgewood teen father charged with nearly killing 4-month-old

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Victor Fuentes, 19, of 459 Onderdonk Ave., was charged with assault and reckless endangerment of a child after his son was admitted to the hospital with retinal hemorrhaging, swelling throughout his brain, 12 broken ribs and black eyes, Brown said.

Fuentes was home alone watching the child at 11:30 a.m. while the baby's mother, an unidentified Grover Cleveland High School student, was at school, law enforcement officials said. Fuentes, who works at a B.J.'s Wholesale Club, lives with the baby's mother, but it was unclear if they are married, the official said.

Frustrated by his son's coughing fit, Fuentes told police that he lifted the child by its torso, and shook it back and forth and side to side until it stiffened, rolled its eyes into its head and went limp, according to the criminal complaint.

He dialed 911 and the infant was transported to Cornell Medical Center, where doctors reported to authorities that its injuries were consistent with Shaken Baby Syndrome, a condition which describes the various injuries a baby may endure after being violently shaken.

Brain swelling, broken ribs, extensive retinal damage, pale or bluish skin, and unconsciousness are just some of the indicators of SBS, according to the National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome Web site.

Some 20 percent of all shaken babies die within the first few days of the trauma, and most survivors have life-long handicaps ranging from minor learning disabilities to mental retardation, blindness or paralysis, the Web site says

Doctors gave Fuentes' son a zero percent chance of recovering from his injuries, and said a week ago that he might die.

But the child was released Friday, according to a hospital official. The official would not say to whom the child was released, and would not comment on the baby's condition.

Fuentes admitted to authorities that he has an anger problem, and that he has shaken his son before, although this was the first time he had been charged with an offense. If convicted, he faces 25 years in prison, Brown said.

Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by calling 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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