Baby Bentley's seizures pick up, remains in critical condition

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:42 AM

Bentley McIntyre remains in critical condition at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, hospital officials said Monday.

The baby was hospitalized early Friday morning after allegedly being shaken by his father. His mother, Kaylee Zalsman, was at work at the time.

“The MRI showed brain bleed, which is indicative of shaken baby,” Spring Lake/Ferrysburg Police Chief Roger DeYoung said.

The baby’s father, Justin McIntyre, 23, also of Spring Lake, is lodged in the Ottawa County Jail on a charge of first-degree child abuse. Bond was set at $75,000.

Police declined to share any more details about what happened that night.

Autumn Ames — a close friend of the baby’s grandmother, Patti Zalsman — is acting as spokeswoman for the family. Ames said she has been to the hospital every day. She has also established a "Prayers for Bentley" Facebook page.

Ames said Zalsman’s nephew heard the baby crying and alerted the grandmother.

“Patti went downstairs and took Bentley from Justin,” Ames said. “That is when she realized something was wrong.”

Ames said family members, including Justin McIntyre, took the baby to North Ottawa Community Hospital.

According to Zalsman, McIntyre “seemed as upset and distraught as everyone else,” Ames said. “Not that it makes it right,” she added.

“I honestly feel he’s not an evil person — he just screwed up,” Ames said. “I don’t think he meant to (hurt the child) based on everything I’ve heard.”

The baby's mother, Kaylee Zalsman, has stayed by her child at the hospital day and night since the boy was injured, Ames said. During that time, the severe swelling of the child’s head has gone down.

“His face looked pretty normal yesterday,” Ames said Monday.

But Bentley has experienced a number of seizures and has a staph infection in his lungs, Ames said. An MRI has also indicated there is damage to the frontal lobe as well as the back of his brain.

The MRI also showed that there were no other injuries to the child, according to Ames.

Ames said the doctors have not yet given them a full diagnosis.

“It’s a waiting game,” she said. “They will know whether or not the child will be able to talk when it’s time for him to talk.”

Ames is also a day care provider who has cared for Bentley on occasion, she said.

“He was the sweetest, most quiet baby,” she said. “He never cried. He was very alert. We just really enjoy him.”

DeYoung said it’s not often his department deals with a suspected child abuse case this severe. He said he would never forget a case in the 1990s in which a 2-year-old girl died after being kicked in the head “with big combat boots.”

“It’s a tough deal,” DeYoung said.

McIntyre was scheduled for a pre-preliminary examination this morning in Ottawa County 58th District Court. That is basically a conference between attorneys in which a decision could be made to waive the preliminary examination and send the case to Circuit Court, DeYoung said.

The penalty for a first-degree child abuse conviction is up to 15 years in prison.

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