RPD: Father was running from Child Protective Services when hit by truck; Baby remains in critical condition
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Rochester Police say a father was running from Child Protective Services, with his infant in his arms, when he was struck by a box truck on Joesph Avenue. The baby girl remains hospitalized in Pediatric Intensive Care.
The father, 25-year-old Gerald Benitez-Alvarez, is charged with first-degree assault. RPD says the father picked up the baby like a football and kept running after they were knocked to the ground by the truck.
The 1 ½-month old baby is receiving treatment at Strong Hospital for a fractured arm, bruising and abrasions to the face, fractured ribs, a fractured skull, a herniation of the brain, and multiple brain bleeds. She was born on March 24.
On May 2 around noon, Monroe County Child Protectives Services workers went to the House of Mercy at 285 Ormond Street to follow up with an anonymous complaint of a neglected baby.
RPD says Benitez-Alvarez was walking down Joseph Avenue with his baby and began running when he saw the CPS workers. While near an underpass, the truck hit the father, causing him to drop the baby.
RPD says Benitez-Alvarez continued to run with the baby until he got to 360 St. Paul Street, where he left the baby on the pavement and continued running. Officers caught the father in the area around the Genesee Brewery on St. Paul Street.
The driver of the truck remained on the scene and cooperated with investigators. RPD says the Major Crimes is still investigating and additional charges may be presented to a Grand Jury.
News10NBC was at the arraignment for Benitez-Alvarez in Rochester City Court on Wednesday, where he pleaded not guilty.
Assistant District Attorney Sara VanStrydonck said the father had text messages to the mother of the child on Tuesday indicating that the child needed immediate medical attention. She said the baby needed to go to the hospital but Benitez-Alvarez couldn’t take her in over fear of being caught by CPS.
“We gotta do a better job in this community at keeping our kids safe,” says VanStrydonck. “What you see today is one case. And I can promise you that all the investigators and doctors that were working this case are tired because they worked five other cases involving kids and significant injuries to them, that we don’t hear on the news.”
She said CPS tried doing a welfare check on the baby and that’s when the father ran.
“You can’t help but feel for this is a 1-month-old child. There is not, I think, the term vulnerable gets thrown around in our society and our day in age about vulnerable people and who’s vulnerable. I would argue with anybody that there is nobody more vulnerable than that 1-month-old baby that is in Strong right now,” VanStrydonck said.
Bail was set at $250,000 in cash. Benitez-Alvarez is due back in court for a preliminary hearing on Monday, May 8. The judge also signed a no-contact order of protection for his 1-month-old daughter.