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WOODLAND, Wash. -- A 3-year-old Woodland boy was taken to a Vancouver hospital with a burned hand and head trauma, leading to an arrest and prompting a child abuse investigation by Woodland police.

The boy's father noticed Wednesday afternoon that he couldn't walk straight and was bumping into walls, according to Det. Dave Plaza. The father then saw burns on his son's hand and rushed the boy to a Vancouver hospital.

Hospital staff called police after the boy was brought in, said Sgt. Brad Gillaspie.

The boy's father and live-in girlfriend, 33-year-old Teresa Hernandez, were interviewed by Det. Plaza. Afterwards, Hernandez was arrested on accusations of first-degree assault of a child.

Gillaspie said investigators believe Hernandez used an iron to burn the back of the boy's hand on Sunday and pushed him down a flight of stairs on Tuesday, causing a brain injury.

The boy was transferred from Vancouver to Randall Children's hospital in Portland, where he was listed in serious condition with hemorrhaging in his brain. Plaza said doctors there found scars all over the boy's and skull fractures from similar injuries in the past.

Plaza also said Hernandez was investigated in the past when someone reported finding curling iron burns on the boy's neck. Investigators do not believe the father is involved in the abuse.

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KGWreporter Nina Mehlhaf contributed to this report.

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