GRANTSVILLE, Utah (ABC4 News) – A man was charged with child abuse homicide after a toddler was struck and killed after running into the road in Grantsville in January.
Michael Montgomery, 73, is charged with child abuse homicide, a second-degree felony after officials say he acted with criminal negligence in connection with the death of the young boy.
Charging documents indicate deputies responded to reports of the boy wandering alone in the street on multiple occasions between January 2018 and January 15, 2019.
Officers first responded to the home where the boy lived with his mother and Montgomery in Grantsville off Burmester Road in January 2018.
They received reports that the child had wandered into the street.
The deputy that responded to the call was concerned for the safety of the toddler and contacted the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS). The mother of the child worked with DCFS and promised authorities the incident would not happen again.
On September 22, a deputy noticed a vehicle stopped in the road near Burmester Road and approached it to see if the driver needed help. When he made contact with the driver, he noticed that he was holding a small child.
The driver told police she stopped to help the child because she was walking in the middle of the road with nobody around, according to court documents.
Upon further investigation, authorities found that this was the same child that had run into the road in January. The officer said he took the child and placed him in his patrol vehicle.
A few minutes later, authorities said the child’s mother ran outside and took the child. She explained to police that she stepped away to smoke a cigarette and left the child in the care of Mongomery.
Mongomery said according to court documents that he was on his computer and did not notice the child had left the room.
A deputy was dispatched in October to a call regarding child neglect in the area after a driver reported that she saw a small child pushing a stroller in the middle of Burmester Road.
The driver stopped and stayed with the child for a while until an older man came out. The driver said she saw the man spank the child, throw him in the stroller and took him into the house.
When the deputy spoke to the child’s mother, she said she had just returned home from work and had no knowledge of the incident.
Montgomery told authorities that he was watching the child and the child had “gone out through the back gate,” according to court documents. He, however, went out to find the child as soon as he noticed the child had disappeared.
The day after Christmas, another deputy was yet again dispatched to the same address on reports of an unattended toddler walking down Burmester Road wearing just a diaper.
Court documents stated that three drivers almost hit the child. The first driver said once he saw the child in his headlight, he swerved around the child. The second driver was able to do the same. The third driver said he was able to stop just before hitting the child with his car.
Montgomery came out of their home shortly after the incident and took the child, according to witnesses.
When questioned by police, Montgomery said he went out to his shop and that’s when the child escaped from the house.
The unfortunate final event happened when a deputy was dispatched to an automobile-pedestrian accident near Burmester Road. Upon arrival, officials found that it was the same child that had been reported in the road on Burmester multiple times throughout the last several months.
The child was transported to the hospital where he was pronounced dead, according to court documents.
Authorities found that the child was struck twice. The first driver said she was driving 55mph when the child darted in front of her and she hit him. She told officials she didn’t realize she that hit a human at first. She later saw the child tumbling in her rearview mirror.
She also told authorities that she saw a yellow box truck that was right behind her hit the child as well but never stopped.
Montgomery told Tooele County Sheriff’s Department during an interview he was watching the toddler that day and had taken the victim to Grantsville earlier in the day to get some food. When they got back, he and the baby fell asleep after eating and watching cartoons. Montgomery said when he woke up, the toddler was gone.
Montgomery later told officials that he believes the toddler must have gone out through the dog door. According to court documents, Montgomery said there is a latch and padlock that keeps the dog door closed, but he did not take the time to lock the dog door.
Based on the circumstances of the incident, officials concluded the Montgomery acted with criminal negligence when he decided not to take the time to lock the dog door.
They added that Montgomery knew that there was a substantial likelihood that the toddler would try to escape and knew he liked to go into the road and should have taken more precaution to keep the child safe.