A Tooele County man is facing a felony charge after the child in his care was struck and killed on Burmester Road in January.
Michael Montgomery, 73, was charged with second-degree felony child abuse homicide in 3rd District Court on Tuesday.
Tooele County Sheriff’s deputies responded to an automobile-pedestrian accident on Jan. 15 in the area of Montgomery’s Burmester Road residence, according to the probable cause statement. The victim, a 2-year-old boy, was struck and killed on the road as Montgomery was watching the boy while his mother was away.
The driver said the boy darted in front of their vehicle and they struck him, the statement said. The boy was taken to a local hospital and pronounced dead.
It was not the first time law enforcement had been dispatched to the area for the same boy escaping the house and being on the road.
“The victim was the same child that had been reported in the road on Burmester multiple times throughout the last several months,” the probable cause statement said.
The probable cause statement cited four previous incidents, as early as January 2018, where the child had left the home unsupervised and been spotted in the road.
On Jan. 18, 2018, a sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to Montgomery’s home, where the boy and his mother lived, on a welfare check, the statement said. The boy’s mother disclosed to the deputy the child had been found walking in the middle of the road near the home, which is in a 55 mph zone.
The responding deputy contacted the state Division of Child and Family Services, and the mother worked with DCFS, promising to take precautions, the probable cause statement said.
A deputy monitoring vehicle speed near Montgomery’s home on Sept. 22, 2018, made contact with a driver who had stopped near his location, the statement said. The driver was holding a small child, who they said was walking in the middle of the road with nobody around.
The child was identified as the one from the January welfare check and the deputy took the child, placing him in his patrol vehicle, according to the statement. The child’s mother came running up shortly thereafter and said she left the child with Montgomery while she went to smoke a cigarette.
Montgomery said he was on the computer and did not notice the child leave the room, the statement said.
A deputy was dispatched on a report of child neglect on Oct. 2, after a driver on Burmester Road noticed a small child in the middle of Burmester Road pushing a stroller, the statement said. The reporting party said they stayed with the child for several minutes before an older man came out from Montgomery’s home, took the child, “spanked him ‘hard’” and took him back into the house.
When the deputy responded to Montgomery’s house, the child’s mother said she had just arrived home and didn’t know about the incident, according to the probable cause statement. Montgomery said he was watching the 2-year-old and once he realized the child was missing, he went to find him.
On Dec. 26, 2018 at 5:50 p.m., a Tooele County Sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to Montgomery’s address on a report of an unattended child, charging documents said. The caller reported the child was only wearing a diaper and walking down Burmester Road.
Two drivers who saw the child said they swerved to avoid him as soon as they saw him in their headlights, the statement said. A third driver managed to stop just before striking the child.
Witnesses told the deputy an older man from Montgomery’s home came out and retrieved the child, according to the probable cause statement. Montgomery indicated “he had gone out to his shop” and the child must have escaped from the house while he was in the shop. He said he went down to retrieve the child from the road.
On Jan. 15, the day of the fatal accident, Montgomery was interviewed by investigators with the sheriff’s office, the statement said. He said he was watching the 2-year-old boy on the day in question.
Montgomery described the events of the day and said after a trip to Grantsville, he fed the boy, who fell asleep watching cartoons, the statement said. Montgomery said he also fell asleep, and when he woke up, the child was gone.
When asked how the child could have escaped, Montgomery said he must have gone out through the dog door, according to the probable cause statement. Montgomery said there is a latch and padlock on the dog door, but he did not take the time to lock the dog door.
“Based on the totality of the circumstances, the defendant acted with criminal negligence when he did not take the time to lock the dog door,” charging documents said. “Over the last several months, the victim had escaped from the home multiple times and ended up on the road. This was a fact that the defendant knew and observed.”
Montgomery is scheduled to make his initial appearance in 3rd District Court on March 27 at 11 a.m. before Judge Matthew Bates.