Odessa grandmother saves baby from suspected abuse

Odessa grandmother saves baby from suspected abuse

ODESSA, TX (KWES) - An Odessa grandmother spoke exclusively with NewsWest 9 about the "tough decision" she made to protect her youngest grandchild from suspected abuse and neglect.

Yolanda Rivera said she noticed extensive bruising and a suspicious cut on her 22-month-old grandson's lip when she saw him last month at his mother's home.

The doting grandmother immediately took him to the hospital and shared her concerns with officials, sparking a criminal investigation that ultimately landed her daughter - the child's mother - behind bars.

"My daughter said he fell from the bed," Rivera explained. "And then she said he fell from the recliner... But when I saw his little cheeks all bruised up, I said, 'No, this isn't right.'"

The boy's mother, Cristal Mendez, later changed her story again and claimed he was bruised in a playful "wrestling" match with her boyfriend, Rivera said.

Detectives questioned Mendez and her partner, Fabian Contreras, and determined her account was "inconsistent with the severity of the bruises that the child sustained," according to Odessa Police.

The Lone Star Fugitive Task Force arrested the couple last week, authorities confirmed.

Mendez is charged with child endangerment, a state jail felony. Contreras is charged with injury to a child, a third degree felony.

The couple could not be reached for comment.

Rivera said her daughter "blames [her]" for their arrests and felt her intervention was unnecessary.

"It was a very tough decision because I still love her [and] she's my daughter," Rivera said. "But the baby can't talk. She can. She can protect herself. The baby can't protect himself."

The injured child is expected to make a full recovery, according to his grandmother.

He and his four siblings have been placed in the care of their father in the Arlington area, she added.

"My daughter will thank me one day," Rivera said with tears in her eyes. "I know I did the right thing."

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