Eau Claire woman charged with child neglect after 3-year-old hurt in fall

The 3-year-old boy suffered a brain bleed, orbital fracture and other internal injuries as a result of the fall.
Celena Stone
Celena Stone(Eau Claire County Jail)
Published: May. 31, 2022 at 5:17 PM CDT
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - An Eau Claire woman is charged with two felony counts of child neglect after police say her three-year-old fell from an overhang on the roof of an apartment building on May 27.

25-year-old Celena Stone was charged with two counts of neglecting a child in Eau Claire County Circuit Court on Tuesday, according to online court records.

According to court documents filed with the charges, the Eau Claire Police Department said they were called to Mayo Hospital for a report of child abuse on May 28. The grandmother of a 3-year-old boy notified police that the boy had been in the care of his biological mother, Stone, since the day before and was taken to the hospital with severe bruises on the left side of his head. Stone told the grandmother that the boy had fallen off of the roof or deck the day before. Initial scans by hospital staff showed the 3-year-old boy had suffered a left orbital fracture and was bleeding inside of his head, and that his left eye had swollen to the point it could not open. Staff also found bruising and abrasions on the boy’s back, right shin and face. The staff at the hospital also noted that the boy had been wearing a diaper, but it did not appear that the diaper had been changed in at least a day or so. The boy had been in the trauma unit at Mayo Hospital in Eau Claire but was being flown to Rochester.

The grandmother, who has guardianship and placement of the boy, said that Stone is allowed visitation and met Stone to drop the boy off on May 24. The boy was to stay with Stone through May 27. After Stone didn’t respond to calls or texts during the visitation, the grandmother drove to Stone’s Eau Claire home on May 28, but nobody was home. After finally reaching Stone, Stone told the grandmother that the boy needed to be taken to the hospital after having “a bad accident.” When the grandmother arrived and saw the injuries, she took the boy to Mayo Hospital in Eau Claire, according to court documents.

Police went to Stone’s Eau Claire home and saw a short overhang on a first-story roof that was over 8 ft. above the pavement below. A tall set of stairs led up to Stone’s residence, with a deck platform near the front door about 12 ft. above the pavement. Officers noticed a recently-damaged piece of weathered siding about 8 ft. above the pavement with an apparent small footprint on them, with toes easily identifiable from the weathering. Officers also found a second-story window with a screen removed about 15 ft. above the pavement and what appeared to be crackers near the ground, according to court documents.

A man living with Stone told police that he thought the injuries looked bad, but the boy was behaving normally, according to court documents. The man, who was not at home when the fall happened, said that they tried to ice the boy’s eye but he didn’t seem to like it. When they checked on the boy overnight, they noticed he had swelling and bruising, but told police that while the boy seemed like he was in pain, it was not how they thought he would act with a fracture. The man said that the boy is autistic and doesn’t communicate well, but seemed to be playing and interested in things in the house like normal.

According to the court documents filed with the charges, Stone told police she did not see the fall but heard him cry and went to check on him. Stone did not think the boy was seriously hurt since he had some scratches and was acting normal. Stone said she worked in health care and that when she checked on the boy, everything seemed normal. Stone repeatedly told police that she didn’t think the boy was as injured as he was. She also told police she was the only one home at the time of the fall. When asked why she did not seek medical treatment for the boy’s injuries, Stone again said she did not think the injuries were that serious or she would have taken him in for medical attention.

Medical staff at Mayo told police that the injuries appeared consistent with a fall from an elevated position. The staff said the boy was stable and had suffered an orbital fracture, brain bleed and other internal injuries, according to court documents.

Stone signed a $15,000 signature bond Tuesday, the same date as her initial appearance in Eau Claire County Circuit Court. Stone is not allowed unsupervised contact with her son and must follow all Wisconsin Department of Health Services directives. Her next court appearance is scheduled for July 14, according to online court records.

If convicted of both charges, Stone faces a maximum sentence of 16 years in prison and a maximum penalty of $35,000.

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