PALMDALE (CBSLA.com) — Authorities Friday said a Palmdale boy has died after sustaining a massive skull fracture and other injuries in a case of suspected child abuse.
The unidentified 8-year-old child was pronounced dead at a hospital around 3 p.m. a day after police say he was severely beaten, had broken ribs, and burns over his body.
The child’s mother, 29-year-old Pearl Fernandez, and her boyfriend, 33-year-old Isauro Aguirre, were arrested Thursday in connection with the alleged attack. Both are expected to be arraigned Tuesday.
“Anytime a child fatality occurs something has gone wrong with ‘the system’,” Philip Browning, the director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), told CBS2’s Kristine Lazar.
Browning said the morning after the child was hospitalized, a full investigation into his case was launched. The social workers involved have been put on desk duty during the investigation.
“If there’s something that we could have done and didn’t do, we need to change,” Browning said. “I do think that within a short period of time we’ll be able to see if there are any systemic issues.”
DCFS is not allowed by law to discuss the specifics of the child’s case.
Neighbors at his apartment complex, however, say the boy was constantly covered in visible injuries.
“All his face was swollen. Purple and green and scratches,” said Claudia Sergoviano. She told Lazar she thought something was being done about the suspected abuse.
“I saw a social worker coming in. She took him out, walked him around, took him back in and left,” Sergoviano said.
Browning has served as director for eighteen months. Preceding him were 17 different directors in the past 25 years. He says his goal is to clean up the department and to step up training.
“There are thousands and thousands of situations every day where the outcome is very, very good. And I regret so much when bad things happen to children,” he said.
The LA County Board of Supervisors oversees DCFS. Three independent attorneys are expected to look into this case as is standard procedure when a child is severely injured or killed.