Child's play injures 11-year-old girl's eye

Apple thrown at her breaks blood vessels, threatens vision

June 09, 1999|By Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan | Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan,SUN STAFF

Eleven-year-old Sharika Garcia is lying in a hospital bed at Anne Arundel Medical Center with a bandage over her right eye, facing the possibility of losing her vision on that side after being struck so hard that her iris was damaged and blood vessels broke.

The alleged perpetrator was an 11-year-old boy in her Annapolis neighborhood. The weapon: a golf ball-sized apple.

Police charged the boy as a juvenile with second-degree assault in connection with the Sunday afternoon incident.

Sharika's angry parents are wondering if kids can just be kids any more -- without anyone else injuring an eye.

"The boy who did it, I have told him for at least the last four or five years to stop throwing them apples," said her father, Antonio Brown, who is Neighborhood Watch block captain in the Bywater community of southwest Annapolis. "But these kids do it because these things are hard, they hurt and they get some thrill out of it. What they do is not what I consider play. [The accident] is something I expected to happen. I just didn't expect it to be my child."

Officer Eric Crane, city police spokesman, would not release the boy's name because he is a juvenile. He said Officer Timothy Kane made the arrest at the child's home in the 1900 block of Copeland St. shortly after the accident occurred at 3: 45 p.m. Crane said if the accident causes permanent damage to Sharika's eye, the charge could be upgraded to first-degree assault.

The boy will appear before a juvenile court judge before the end of the month and probably will be sentenced to community service, unless he has a criminal record, Crane said.

"I don't think that's harsh," Crane said. "If that child loses an eye, that eye will never come back. I'm not saying, `An eye for an eye,' but the child should realize that, `Hey, I really goofed up, I made a mistake, I made a poor decision.' "

Sharika was sitting with friends in a grassy area behind her home at the 900 block of Royal St. near a group of about eight boys who are known for picking up fallen apples and throwing them at each other, Brown said.

"That particular day, they must have decided to focus on the girls," Brown said. "We heard a sound that drew us out back, like somebody hitting a whiffle ball with a bat -- it was a loud crack. The little guy that threw it really must have thrown it with everything he had."

Brown and his wife, Sharon Garcia Brown, ran out back and saw their daughter lying on the ground with blood in her right eye. He scooped her up and took her to the Anne Arundel Medical Center while his wife called police.

Sharika is now in the hospital for a five-day observation period.

"She has to lay back -- she's not able to lean forward, cough, vomit or sneeze," her mother said. "If the blood vessel pops again, she'll lose 50 to 100 percent of the sight in her eye. My daughter was ready to come up on a pretty promising modeling career, she loves playing basketball, she loves to read. The thought of her maybe losing the sight in one of her eyes I'm just concerned."

The injury will prevent Sharika from attending her fifth-grade graduation at Water Mills Parole Elementary School this Friday.

Anne Arundel Medical Center and city police officials said they hope children and parents will learn from this incident. Officer Crane said accidents arising from child's play are common, but are usually not this severe.

"You know how kids are," Crane said. "When I was a kid, I threw dirt bombs at my little brother and I struck him in the eye once and he got a bruised eye. I got into trouble for it and thank goodness he wasn't blinded, but I learned my lesson. It's the parents' responsibility to tell their children that it's not acceptable behavior to be throwing anything at anybody. Don't throw stones, don't throw paper clips, don't throw apples, even if their intention is not to hurt anyone. You never know what can happen."

Pub Date: 6/09/99

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