An Oakdale man accused of fracturing his 6-week-old baby’s skull — and numerous other bones — pleaded not guilty in Antelope County District Court on Wednesday morning.
Christofer Carstens, 21, has been charged with one count of felony child abuse-serious bodily injury, a class II felony, and could face up to 50 years in prison. He is being represented by a court-appointed attorney, Pat Carney.
After Carstens pleaded not guilty, Judge James Kube set his pretrial conference for August 28 at 9 a.m. His bond was continued at 10 percent of $500,000 and he was ordered to have no contact with two individuals, unless it was in a courtroom setting.
Carstens allegedly committed the crime after becoming frustrated when the baby wouldn’t stop crying, according to court records.
According to the arrest affidavit, he told the investigator that he “was tossing (the baby) in the air and her head hit the ceiling.”
“Christofer Carstens also advised that he became frustrated that (the baby) would not stop crying and was holding (the baby) with his hands underneath her arm pits and shook her,” the document said.
According to the affidavit, the Antelope County Sheriff’s Department received a 911 call from the baby’s grandfather, Stephen Barrington, at 708 5th St. in Oakdale on May 25. The report said Barrington told dispatchers that his 6-week-old granddaughter was having seizures.
She was taken by ambulance to Antelope Memorial Hospital where Dr. Kelli Osborn ordered X-rays, Sheriff Bob Moore’s report stated.
“Dr. Osborne advised that the baby had broken ribs, a broken clavicle, a broken arm (humerus) and a skull fracture with a serious brain bleed,” he wrote.
While waiting for Life Flight to arrive, the sheriff received differing stories from the parents and grandparents regarding their thoughts on how the injuries occurred, according to the affidavit. Moore stated that he placed the baby in emergency protective custody at that time.
Interviews of several individuals determined that the baby had no injuries or a swollen eye and was acting like a normal baby until the time the baby was given to Carstens at 6 p.m. on May 24, the document stated.
On May 25, several family members noted the baby’s swollen eye — which Carstens claimed was due to allergies — and witnessed apparent seizures, according to the report. Despite his arguments, Barrington called 911, Moore wrote. The infant was taken to AMH and later airlifted to Children's Hospital in Omaha.
The sheriff stated that his timeline was given to the Nebraska State Patrol and a state investigator conducted an interview of Carstens in Omaha.
The report stated that — on June 4 — Carstens advised the investigator that his action on May 24 “was the reason that caused her injuries.” He was arrested by Antelope County Sheriff’s Department that same day.
Due to the ongoing investigation of the case, the baby was placed in the custody of Nebraska Health and Human Services.
An investigation is continuing into the cause of an infant’s injuries over the weekend, which led to the child being life-flighted to an Omaha hospital.
According to Antelope County Attorney Joe Abler, at about 12:30 p.m. Saturday, the Nebraska State Patrol and Antelope County Sheriff’s Office responded to an Oakdale residence for a report of an infant having seizures. Both Neligh Rescue and Midwest Medical Transport also responded.
The infant, who has not been identified at this time, was transported from 708 5th Street in Oakdale to Antelope Memorial Hospital in Neligh and later airlifted to Children’s Hospital in Omaha.
Abler said the cause of the infant’s conditions and injuries are still under investigation by the Antelope County Sheriff’s Office and Nebraska State Patrol. The extent of the infant’s injuries are unknown at this time.
Weather permitting, Great Plains Communications will begin repairs on phone lines that were damaged due to last month's flooding.
Repairs will be starting tomorrow and will be taking place on west 4th Street between the bridge and Mill Street on the cut across road. If you are using the cut across road, the Village of Oakdale strongly suggests to use an alternate route and not to expect the repairmen to move equipment to let you through.
Repairs are expected to be completed within a day. The Village of Oakdale will start replacing culverts and repairing Mill Street at the beginning of next week.
Due to safety concerns and continuous maintenance, a county blacktop between Highway 14 and the Village of Oakdale may be closed permanently to non-local heavy trucks.
During Monday’s Oakdale Village Council meeting, members unanimously approved creating a resolution that prohibits any vehicle over a 6 ton axle to go through the town, except for Sixth Street near the elevator. Local trucks and services would still be allowed and annual permits would be available. Only non-local heavy trucks would be impacted.
“There is no possible way for a vehicle to come off the Oakdale Cut Across and into town without crossing there, so we need to follow suit,” County Road Superintendent Casey Dittrich told commissioners Tuesday morning. “I don’t think that’s a bad deal. Right now it’s barricaded and open only to local traffic with the bridge out. We’re going to keep it that way.”
While the Oakdale board voted to create the resolution, it must be approved before a change is made. However, even after that, the county must make a decision on if it wants to proceed.
“It’s tearing up our roads through town, and we’re responsible financially for fixing the road at the bridge. We want to close it down,” said Oakdale counsel member Angie Boyer.
Everyone in attendance at the Oakdale meeting supported closure of the route and had no issues with permits for such reason as harvest or hauling hay.
“They used to shut that down two weeks before Easter and keep it closed for 90 days after to let the ground dry out,” said Steve Jockens, who lives just west of Oakdale on the blacktop. “In the spring, it just tears the road to pieces.”
Previously, the truck route — or Oakdale Cut Across as it’s widely known — saw abundant heavy truck traffic. However since the flooding, it’s now open to only local traffic. Heavy truck traffic, village officials said, has continuously led to maintenance by the county. Lowering the truck traffic, they said, would save tax dollars.
Dittrich said he is hoping to discuss the truck route at the county level more in May. He said the county has to decide whether it follows suit with Oakdale and issues a 6 ton limit as well. If the county does not, a driver could legally be on the blacktop but receive a citation as soon as they enter Oakdale village limits.
The Village of Oakdale is patrolled by the Antelope County Sheriff’s Department, so it would be the county issuing tickets in Oakdale.
The North Central District Health Department will be offering Tetanus vaccinations for those who have been in contact with floodwater.
Those who should consider getting the tetanus vaccine include first responders who have been exposed to floodwaters, individuals who have a wound that was exposed to floodwater or if it has been five years since your last vaccine.
The NCDHD will be offering Tetanus vaccine at the following locations:
NCDHD will continue to have tetanus vaccine available at their office in downtown O’Neill. The office is open 8a-4:30p.
If you have insurance, please bring your card along. If you do not have insurance, there will be no charge.
The Oakdale Volunteer Fire Department and Lois Johnson Memorial Library are having a fish fry on Friday, March 29, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Oakdale Community Center. The fish fry will be all you can eat, including fish, salads, potatoes, drink and dessert. Adults are $10 and children 12 and under are $5. Proceeds will be used to fund the library and for OVFD equipment and training.
A gas meter was struck by a vehicle Thursday night in Oakdale, leading to a gas leak in an alley near 6th and Wilson Streets, according to the Antelope County Sheriff's Department.
The Oakdale Fire Department assisted Black Hills Energy with the leak. The Sheriff's Department, Nebraska State Patrol and Neligh Rescue also were on scene. No injuries were reported.
This story will be updated when more information becomes available.
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