Utah Man Booked on Felony Child Abuse Charges for Throwing Corrosive Substance on Young Children

A Utah man was booked into Cache County jail on felony child abuse charges after he threw a corrosive substance on two young children, resulting in burns to their skin.

Chemical burns

Photo by: Michael Coghlan

32 year old Jason Keith Summers of Smithfield, Utah was arrested after he entered onto a neighbor’s property and threw a substance thought to be sulfuric acid on two young children playing in the yard. Sulfuric acid is a common ingredient in drain cleaner and fertilizer which can not only cause burns and tissue damage but also blindness. Both children suffered chemical burns to their skin, one who had the chemical thrown on his face required additional treatment from a specialized burn center. After trying to flee custody, Summers was finally booked into jail on multiple charges including second degree felony child abuse.

Child Abuse

Utah Code 76-5-112.5 states: “Unless a greater penalty is otherwise provided by law:

(a). . . a person is guilty of a felony of the third degree if the person knowingly or intentionally causes or permits a child or vulnerable adult to be exposed to, inhale, ingest, or have contact with a controlled substance, chemical substance, or drug paraphernalia;

(b) . . . a person is guilty of a felony of the second degree, if:

(i) the person engages in the conduct described [above]; and

(ii) as a result of the conduct . . . , a child or vulnerable adult suffers bodily injury, substantial bodily injury, or serious bodily injury”.

History of drugs and violence

Perhaps in defense of his actions, Summers alerted police that he had used drugs the day of the chemical attack and law enforcement agreed Summers appeared under the influence of something. Court records further indicate Summers has a lengthy history of aggressive behavior while under the influence of illicit substances. While drug use may cause individuals to behave in ways they normally wouldn’t, they are still ultimately held responsible for their actions. Hopefully a treatment plan to overcome addiction will be included with the punishment handed down to Summers so he can stop the cycle of drug use and criminal actions.

Opioids and Benzos – A Deadly Combination

Opioids and Benzos- two highly addictive drugs that can be obtained illegally or with the help of a physician can be a deadly combination when used together.

Opioids

Photo by: Dennis Yip

Opioids are a type of drug that binds to the opioid receptors in the body, reducing pain while increasing a sense of euphoria. Opioids can come in illegal forms such as heroin or fentanyl or they can be prescribed legally by a doctor. These prescription opioids include the popular:

• OxyContin;
• Morphine;
• Vicodin; and
• Codeine.

Opioids by themselves have caused tens of thousands of overdose deaths last year alone. They are highly addictive, quickly leading to dependency. They who are dependent on opioids commonly misuse them in extreme quantities. Misuse or overuse of opioids can result in respiratory distress and death.

Benzodiazepines (Benzos)

Another “feel good sedative”, Benzodiazepines are “a type of prescription sedative commonly prescribed for anxiety or the help with insomnia“ according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The go on to describe common [benzos] as “Valium, Xanax, and Klonopin.” Just like opioids, benzos can sedate a person too much, decreasing their breathing to dangerous levels. Combined, Opioids and Benzos are too often deadly.

A deadly combination

Photo by: Jason Rogers

On their website, NIH also states “More than 30 percent of overdoses involving opioids also involve benzodiazepines”. With both drugs meant to sedate, it is highly likely that the combined effect of both drugs being used simultaneously can suppress breathing to the point of stopping completely. The respiratory system of users is so relaxed, it forgets to intake oxygen.

Help for those with addictions

Those who know individuals struggling with an opioid addiction, inform them of the dangers of mixing benzos with opioids even under a doctor’s care. Those fighting addiction are encouraged to instead look at “effective medications [that] exist to treat opioid use disorders [such as] methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone.” Loved ones of addicts should consult with a doctor about obtaining the drug naloxone to reverse an overdose should the unthinkable happen when they are present.

Southern Utah woman arrested for Child Abuse

Party of one

A southern Utah woman was arrested for child abuse Friday when police found her passed out drunk while her 1 year old baby wandered unattended.  26 year old Amanda Lee Gardner was staying at The Rodeway Inn in southern Utah, where it appears she consumed a large quantity of alcohol and left her 1 year old daughter to roam the hotel.

Photo by: Christina Welsh

Photo by: Christina Welsh

Sick baby, drunk mom

The one year old baby girl was found alone by other patrons of the hotel after 10pm at night.  She was wandering around on the outside balcony of the second story and was acting very ill.  She was vomiting and obviously needed medical care.  Police were called and when they located Gardner she was intoxicated on the floor, and difficult to arouse.  Police then contacted an ambulance and CPS.

Treated, then arrested for child abuse

Both baby and Gardner were taken to Dixie Regional Medical Center.  The baby girl was dehydrated and had hypothermia but has made a full recovery.  She has been taken into Child Protective Services until further notice.  Gardner was released from the hospital, arrested, and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility in Hurricane, Utah.  She is facing charges of child abuse of a disabled child because of her neglecting a child of such a young age.  This charge is a third-degree felony.

Next time get a sitter

Amanda Lee Gardner has history of alcohol offenses in southern Utah, but no known charges of child abuse.  She was ordered to get help in the past for her addiction, but it appears that alcohol still has control of her life.  It is unknown as to why she was at the hotel with her daughter and if she was drinking alone.  Although no child should be left in the care of a negligent parent, proper rehabilitation for Gardner could eventually make her fit to parent her child again.  With an understanding and intelligent criminal defense attorney, those facing child abuse charges while under the influence of alcohol can regain control of their lives again.