Uptick of Family Disputes and Violence on Thanksgiving

Law enforcement has noted that there is an uptick of calls regarding family disputes or violence between family members during the holiday season, starting with Thanksgiving. There are things that can be done to help avoid sticky situations and keep the peace during the upcoming family festivities.

Picture perfect

Photo by: Andrea Goh

Photo by: Andrea Goh

Thanksgiving Day is a time when many people gather together with their relatives to enjoy a magnificent feast. They may envision laughing while good memories are shared and made with everyone eating delicious food and sipping on bubbly. Luckily, this is the reality for some families. Others however, dread the upcoming holiday knowing that Great Aunt Beatrice is probably going to say something snarky about a cousin’s questionable relationship while after four to five glasses of champagne, Uncle Joe usually loses his ability to filter the words that exit his mouth. Unfortunately, during Thanksgiving or other family get-togethers, it is not rare to have family disputes arise that can quickly escalate into violence.

It begins…

Photo by: Paul Townsend

Photo by: Paul Townsend

While the meal itself can be a joyous part of Thanksgiving, the time leading up to dinner time can be stressful for those responsible for feeding a small army. This stress becomes evident as people head out shopping for the ingredients needed to complete their glorious spread. Grocery stores are usually jam-packed leading up to Thanksgiving with hundreds of other people with not only the same idea, but often with a shopping list similar to those around them. When the pumpkin pies run out or stuffing mix is nowhere to be found, some may start to lose their cool. Others might manage to maintain their composure until they make it home where their stress can lead to agitation and tension between family members.

Wanted (and unwanted) house guests

Family Disputes

Photo by: Corey Balazowich

If hotels have no vacancy or family members want to save money on lodging, they may be invited (or invite themselves) to stay with family members in the area they are visiting. When multiple family members get crammed under one roof, differences of opinions are to be expected. Some arguments may arise due to bedrooms and bathrooms being reluctantly shared; too many know it all cooks in the kitchen; or family members who are not on good terms with each other being forced to rub shoulders more than desired. Any of these or other uncomfortable circumstances can cause already delicate situations to escalate. Sometimes family disputes quickly fizzle out, other times they simmer only to explode later on into physical confrontations.

Prepare and avoid family disputes

Everyone knows the holidays can be stressful and that every member of the family is likely to be in attendance at family gatherings, whether or not they are entirely welcome. With this foresight in mind, it might be wise to prepare for uncomfortable situations and avoid things that can cause disputes to spiral into violence.

Photo by: tinaxduzgen

Photo by: tinaxduzgen

Some suggestions to help limit intense arguments and calls to law enforcement include:

• Avoid hot button topics. If hot button topics such as religion or politics are liable to spark heated debates that can turn physical, make it a rule to avoid these while stuck together at a table.

• Seating chart. Recommend to the host a seating chart that will keep certain people apart who are more likely to argue.

• Limit embarrassing or unpleasant storytelling. If stories from the past aren’t enjoyable for everyone, leave them behind and interject immediately if these reminiscences begin to surface. This is easier for the host to do, as they should have a say in what goes on in their home.

Photo by: jenny downing

Photo by: jenny downing

• Keep the drinking to a minimum. Excessive alcohol consumption has a way of turning a simple argument into an all-out fist fight.

• Get out of there. If a family dinner turns hostile, it may be time to leave. If things do turn into physical confrontations, it is better not to be an involved party when law enforcement gets called in.

• Be a peacemaker. Often it can take a single person to help lighten the mood when things begin to go sour. Be thankful and courteous; patient and understanding. Set the tone and others will hopefully follow suit.

Flying under the Influence in Utah

A pilot from Utah was recently arrested for flying under the influence (FUI?) after he attempted to fly a commercial passenger plane with blood alcohol content over the legal flying limit.

A tipsy pilot

Flying Under the Influence

Photo by: Cory W. Watts

38 year old Russel Duszak from Salt Lake City was arrested for flying under the influence after airport personnel detected a strong odor of alcohol from Duszak nearly 30 minutes prior to his flight from South Dakota to Utah. Authorities did not state the exact blood alcohol content of Duszak, only affirming that it was over the .04 limit for pilots.

Flying under the influence in Utah

Utah Code 72-10-50 states: “A person may not operate or be in actual physical control of an aircraft within this state if the person:
(i) has sufficient alcohol in his body that a subsequent chemical test shows that the person has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .04 grams or greater at the time of the test;
(ii) is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating an aircraft; or
(iii) has a blood or breath alcohol concentration of .04 grams or greater at the time of operation or actual physical control.”
Any person convicted of flying under the influence is guilty of a class B misdemeanor or class A misdemeanor if someone was injured during the drunken flight.

In control of the plane

Some may argue that Duszak cannot be arrested for flying under the influence as he was technically not flying the plane, seeing how passengers hadn’t even boarded yet. This may be true however when it comes to DUI’s, a driver does not need to be driving a vehicle intoxicated to get a DUI- they only need to be in control of the vehicle. 30 minutes prior to takeoff, there was a high likelihood that Duszak was in the cockpit, in control of the plane. Additionally, federal regulations prohibit any pilot from consuming alcohol eight hours before a flight. So either way he would be facing charges whether state, federal, or both.

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.