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Family of child who survived abuse raises awareness of shaken baby syndrome

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 18 2013 5:50 p.m. MST

Joann Otten holds her granddaughter Miley on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013. Miley was shaken and abused in October and is legally blind due to her injuries

Sam Penrod, Deseret News

MANTI — Two months ago, a family thought their baby girl's life would end.

Today, they're thankful for the progress she's made and want to help ensure that what happened to her doesn't happen to other children.

Miley White was severely abused and shaken in October. Her grandmother Joann Otten received a call one day from her son-in-law Gary Hansen, Miley's father, telling her something was wrong with Miley.

"Her father was tending her that day and called me at my work and told me Miley was choking," Otten said. "And when I got there, he was holding a lifeless baby."

Miley was flown from the family's home in Manti to Primary Children's Hospital in Salt Lake City, and for several days doctors were unsure if she would live.

"We thought that she would die," Otten said.

Miley lost one-fourth of her brain function, and the hemorrhaging has left her legally blind.

"She was shaken extremely hard for this to happen to her," Otten said.

Police arrested Hansen after they found evidence Miley's injuries were not the result of an accident. Hansen has pleaded no contest to a second-degree felony charge of child abuse. He faces a possibility of one to 15 years in prison and will be sentenced Dec. 26 in 6th District Court.

"We would like to see him sentenced to the maximum amount of 15 years in prison," Otten said. "Miley has a lifelong sentence, and it's not fair if he doesn't … pay the price for what he has done for her."

Miley's family is hopeful as they see her progress and has decided to share her story about the dangers of shaken baby syndrome.

"I just want to thank everyone for what they have done," said Chelsey White, Miley's mother, regarding support the family has received from the community. "They have been wonderful to us, and I appreciate all they've done."

That support has come in the form of financial, emotional and spiritual help, the family said, from the day Miley was hurt.

"We absolutely believe that we had the best care at Primary Children's that we could have had in the country," Otten said. "But we also believe that it's through the prayers of our community that saved Miley's life."

Contributing: Robert Trishman

Email: spenrod@deseretnews.com

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