FRANKFORT — Kara Mellick kissed her fingers and placed them on her sleeping 9-month-old daughter's head before she headed out the door during the summer of 2009.
Matt Vaughn, her housemate and longtime family friend, was going to watch Karlie that Sunday. Mellick had been called into work, and Karlie's day care was closed.
But something went horribly wrong. Karlie was taken later that day to Kosair Children's Hospital in Louisville with broken ribs, a broken arm and severe head trauma. She died four days later, on June 11, 2009.
Mellick's story is featured in a 14-minute video produced by the Partnership to Eliminate Child Abuse, a coalition of medical schools and children's hospitals from Kentucky and Indiana. The kickoff event for the partnership was held Wednesday at Kosair Children's Hospital.
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The partnership will launch a media blitz soon to raise awareness about the signs of child abuse.
A few years ago, Kentucky led the nation in the number of children who died as a result of abuse and neglect; currently, the state ranks eighth.
On average, 30 children die each year in Kentucky as a result of abuse and neglect. Dr. Melissa Currie of the University of Louisville heads the only pediatric forensic child abuse unit in Kentucky. Currie said Wednesday that her unit saw 1,000 children last year.
Mellick decided to donate Karlie's organs. This month, she met a 3-year-old Chicago-area boy who received Karlie's heart. "Karlie is not gone," Mellick said. "Her heart is so living in the heart of another boy."
Vaughn is serving a 17-year sentence in Karlie's death.