Boy improves as parents worry

Published March 1, 2007

ST. PETERSBURG - Little Josiah Wineberger still has trouble opening his eyes because his face is so swollen. He has brain damage, and doctors say there's a good chance he may suffer from seizures for the rest of his life.

Josiah's parents detailed their 3-year-old son's medical condition at a news conference Wednesday afternoon, five days after the boy was hit by a falling speaker at BayWalk.

His father, John Wineberger, 35, choked back tears. His mother, Zenaida Wineberger, 27, stared at the ground.

"My feelings are with my boy," she said. "That's just not him. He just lies there."

Josiah is no longer on a ventilator but remains in critical and stable condition. He also has a feeding tube.

Mercantile Bank has set up a fund and has chipped in $1,000. Josiah's parents also said people who want to bring their son toys or gifts can drop them off at All Children's Hospital in his name.

The Sembler Co., which owns and manages BayWalk, says it is still investigating how a speaker and its stand fell 20 feet from a balcony Friday and landed on Josiah's head. The boy was eating ice cream on a family outing.

The blow cracked open Josiah's skull and left a 3-inch-long gash in his brain, Josiah's parents said Wednesday. Doctors told them their son's motor skills may be affected. Josiah is right-handed, but now uses his left hand when he wants to grasp his parents' hands.

John Wineberger works in quality control for an electronic chip distributor. Zenaida works in the front office for Florida Dental Centers. Both are on leave from their jobs.

"I'm on a downhill slide every day right now," John Wineberger said.

John Bales, an attorney representing the Winebergers, said he had not yet contacted BayWalk or the Sembler Co. because Josiah's parents were focused on their son's recovery.

Abhi Raghunathan can be reached at araghunatahn @sptimes.com or 727 893-8472.

Fast Facts:

Want to help?

You can drop off contributions to the "Josiah Wineberger Contribution Fund" at any Mercantile Bank branch in the area. Donations can also be mailed to:

Mercantile Bank c/o Margaret Pena

4202 W Kennedy Blvd.

Tampa, FL 33609