Shortly after 3-year-old Hannah Wesche arrived at her baby sitter’s house in southwestern Ohio, the preschooler fell unconscious, her sitter said.
The caregiver, Lindsay Partin, told a 911 operator that the young girl had seemed fine at drop-off Thursday morning. Now, however, the child was lying on her back, gasping for air, her eyes only half-open.
“Hurry, she’s bad,” Partin told the emergency dispatcher last week, according to 911 audio obtained by the Cincinnati Enquirer. “Something’s wrong.”
At that moment Thursday, it was unclear what had happened.
Partin told the dispatcher that Hannah had fallen “pretty bad” the day before and initially explained to investigators that the child had fallen down and hit her head while playing in the garage, the Enquirer reported.
But during the investigation, authorities said, the sitter admitted to “striking the child” before her fall, according to a statement from the Butler County Sheriff’s Office.
The child’s father later likened Hannah’s injury to shaken baby syndrome, a brain injury caused from violently shaking a child, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said Monday that “this little girl is hanging on by a thread.”
Partin, 35, has since been charged with felonious assault and child endangering — accused of causing “serious physical harm to a child by shaking her,” according to a criminal complaint.
“Cases like this rip your heart out,” Jones, the sheriff, said in a statement. “I don’t understand why or how anyone harms a child.”
Hannah’s father, Jason Wesche, said he brought his daughter to Partin’s house on his way to work Thursday. Partin, he said, is a neighbor who has been babysitting the 3-year-old for several months.
But minutes after drop-off, he said, the babysitter called him, saying Hannah had passed out and she didn’t know why.
When he got there and saw his unconscious child, he said, “I thought she was dying.”
“When I picked her up, she was gasping for breath. And every time I’d yell her name, she’d take a deep breath,” Wesche said in a phone interview Tuesday with The Washington Post.
He told the babysitter to call 911.
For more than 13 minutes, Hannah’s father and babysitter could be heard on the 911 tape, pleading with the child to breathe as they waited anxiously for paramedics to get to the house in Hamilton, north of Cincinnati.
“Hey, look at Daddy. Hannah. Look up,” Wesche told his daughter. “Hannah, hey, Hannah. Breathe. Breathe. There you go. Keep breathing.”
He paused to answer questions from the dispatcher, then continued to coax his child to breathe.
“Hannah, look at Daddy,” he said in a gentle voice. “What’s the matter? Hey, what’s the matter? Huh? Look at Daddy. Can you look at Daddy? Baby.”
He considered a seizure.
Then a brain aneurysm.
“I never expected in my wildest dreams that this girl would do it,” Wesche said, referring to the allegations against Partin.
Partin’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.
When first responders arrived at the home, Hannah was unresponsive with bruises on her head and face, according to the Sheriff’s Office. She was rushed to a hospital, then flown to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center with life-threatening injuries, the authorities said.
Wesche said he later learned from authorities that Partin had “punched” his child and “violently shook her” until she passed out.
He wrote on a GoFundMe page for Hannah that what happened is every parent’s “worst nightmare.”
“Hannah was born on January 11, 2015,” Wesche wrote on the page, which had raised more than $3,000 by Tuesday afternoon. “I fell head over [heels] for her and she stole my heart. Raising Hannah and watching her blossom into a bubbly fun loving little girl has been more than I could ever ask for. I am beyond devastated that I am having to say goodbye to my Angel. This is every parents worst nightmare and I will fight for my baby and justice will be served.”
Hannah’s father told a judge that his daughter is expected to die.
“We just want to stress that this situation is devastating,” Wesche said during Partin’s court hearing Monday.
He expects doctors to declare his daughter brain dead within days.
“I never saw it coming,” he told The Post on Tuesday, explaining that all he can do now is sit by his child’s side and wait for her to die.
“There’s no hope,” he said.