In the days following Dec. 7, 2011, family members of Hunter Sewejkis, then just four months old, began planning a funeral as they prepared to disconnect the infant from life support after Hunter in a case of suspected child abuse.
Hunter’s father, 25-year-old Anthony Sewejkis, faces trial in Wayne County Circuit Court beginning May 8 on charges of first-degree child abuse after being accused of twice slamming the infant’s head into the floor of the family’s Michigan Avenue home in Canton. He faces up to 15 years in prison.
Hunter, meanwhile, continues to surprise doctors and family, making strides toward a partial recovery, but still suffers from the effects of his severe head trauma and requires the use of a feeding tube and anti-seizure medication.
“He is doing a lot better,” said Melissa Pangle of Saline, Hunter’s cousin. “But he only has 30 percent vision in one eye and is still blind in the other one.”
Hunter has undergone an extensive rehabilitation routine to assist his development while defying the grim prognosis given after his injury.
“He’s actually responding,” Pangle said. “He learned how to smile, learned how to recognize voices. He’s pretty good hearing, considering what happened to him.”
For a family that had feared the worst six months before, Hunter’s signs of improvement have been encouraging.
“He’s definitely more responsive than anyone thought he would ever be,” Pangle said.
Pangle said doctors and the family were prepared to lose Hunter in December, even removing his ventilator at the hospital.
“They took him off all the machines, took him off the ventilators and (the doctors said to) expect him to go in 90 minutes,” she said. “He kept going. Then they said 24 hours and he kept going, then they said they saw instances where (similar victims have) gone a week, and he kept going.”
Long road to recovery remains
Still, Pangle said, Hunter faces a long road ahead, as he lost much of his brain function, and nobody is able to even project how long he will be able to live in his condition.
“Doctors won’t give any prognosis because they’ve never seen a baby do what he’s doing,” Pangle said. She said Hunter never would be capable of living independently.
Pangle said Hunter currently is in the process of being adopted by his maternal grandparents.
Hunter’s mother, Leann Garlick, recently lost custody of the child, Pangle said, and Hunter remains a ward of the state until his adoption is finalized.
Rummage sale to benefit Baby Hunter
Pangle said family and friends are having a May 12 rummage sale at WideWorld Sports Center, 2140 Oak Valley Drive in Ann Arbor, through Rummage for a Cause to benefit Hunter and his grandparents to assist with expenses for caring for the child.
The sale runs from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. and features a wide variety of vendors.
The Michigan Tigers Futbol Club, a nonprofit group that normally would use all of its bake sale proceeds from the event to give scholarships to travel soccer players unable to pay for team and league expenses in Dexter, Saline, Chelsea, Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor, will split its contributions with Hunter’s family.