When Erica Hammel’s son was abused, she took steps to stop the same thing from happening to other children in the future.
Hammel is a single mom living in Michigan. When she and her ex-husband separated, they shared custody of their infant son, Wyatt. In an interview with Fox 17, Hammel explained that she always had suspicions of her ex-husband’s girlfriend, Rachel Edwards.
Because of her suspicions, Hammel did a thorough search through the internet, as well as court records, to see if her doubts were justified. When nothing came up, she had no choice but to let Wyatt’s father continue to share custody. Hammel explained to Fox that when the opportunity for Wyatt to spend nights with his father arrived:
“I felt really suspicious of the person he was dating. In the end, I had no proof.”
Sadly, Hammel says that “in family court, they see this all the time.”
Unfortunately, Hammel’s doubts about Edwards were justified. One night, Wyatt ended up in the emergency room, in severe condition.
When Hammel found out what happened to her son, she said:
“I just dropped to the ground. I felt so scared. He was complete gray. He had… his eyes were rolled back into his head. He had a tube in every place possible.”
Hammel explained that the doctors and child protective services pulled her to the side and let her know that “they believed Wyatt’s injuries were not accidental.” It was only then, after Wyatt was already severely injured, that Hammel discovered Edwards had a conviction for third-degree child abuse twice, only getting probation each time.
“If I had just had this information, I truly believe this would’ve never happened to Wyatt.”
After the abuse, Wyatt was unable to talk, eat, or walk and was blind in both of his eyes.
In fact, Wyatt’s condition was so bad that when the prosecutor first received the case, doctors didn’t think Wyatt would make it and the case was a homicide instead of abuse.
Now, Wyatt and Hammel live a very different life than they would have without Edwards’ involvement. They spend a great deal of time in appointments for occupational, physical, and speech therapy.
Instead of just focusing on helping Wyatt heal and live a normal life, Erica uses his story as an example to try to change the law.
She is on a mission to pass Wyatt’s Law, which would be a registry of child abusers. The registry would be very similar to that for sex offenders, but only include the names of those who have abused children.
Hammel strongly believes that if such a registry had been available when Wyatt was 18 months old, Edwards never would have gotten the chance to hurt him, preventing his severe brain injuries and other issues. She told Fox:
“You give birth to this perfect, beautiful, innocent baby boy who is completely healthy, and somebody takes that away from them.”
It is something no parent wants to go through. If Wyatt’s Law passes, the number who have to would be greatly reduced.
Although Wyatt was already able to see, talk, walk, and eat by the middle of 2016, not everyone is so lucky.
That is why Hammel continues to fight for Wyatt’s Law to become a reality. In May, Hammel and a group of pediatric doctors from the American Academy of Pediatrics met with legislators in Michigan in hopes of making progress.
Hammel also created a Facebook group, Wyatt the Warrior, and posts updates related to the cause on her Twitter account. On the page, Hammel also shares updates related to Wyatt, including a period of sudden mutism he is currently dealing with and tests he undergoes.