Utah man charged with child abuse homicide after toddler in his care escapes home, walks into traffic

GRANTSVILLE, Utah -- A man has been charged with child abuse homicide after a young child in his care escaped a home and ran out into a road in Grantsville.

Zayden.

Michael Montgomery, 73 of Grantsville, is charged with one count of child abuse homicide in connection with the death of a 2-year-old named Zayden who was hit and killed last month.

The boy lived at a home with his mother and with Montgomery off Burmester Road in Grantsville. Authorities responded to the home in January of 2018 after the young boy was found walking in the road alone.

That road has a speed limit of 55 mph.

The boy's mother told a deputy she was smoking at the time and had left the boy in Montgomery's care when the child escaped.

The boy's mother worked with DCFS after that incident and promised to take steps to keep the boy safe.

In September of 2018, a deputy made contact with a driver who had found the boy walking in the middle of the same road. Again the boy's mother took possession of the child and told investigators she had left the child in Montgomery's care. In this case, the man told deputies he was on the computer and hadn't noticed the boy leaving the room.

In October, another deputy responded to the area after another driver had spotted the boy walking alone in the road. That driver stayed with the boy until Montgomery came and retrieved the child. The man told the deputy the child had gone out the back gate and he hadn't realized he was missing at first.

The day after Christmas another deputy was dispatched to the area after the child was spotted in the road alone and wearing only a diaper. Several drivers narrowly avoided striking the child. In that case, Montgomery told deputies he had gone out to his shop and the boy had escaped while he was in the shop.

The final incident occurred on January 15, when the child was hit by two vehicles and suffered fatal injuries. One driver told investigators she didn't see the boy before he darted into the road.

Montgomery told investigators he was watching the boy but fell asleep in the home.

He said afterward he believed the child escaped through a dog door, which had a padlock, but that he did not take the time to secure the dog door with that padlock.

Prosecutors allege Montgomery acted with criminal negligence when he failed to take the time to secure that dog door, noting that the boy had escaped and nearly been hit several times in recent months. They state Montgomery should have exercised more caution to keep the child safe.

“It’s awful that this child had loved ones," said Robert Clegg, Deputy Tooele County Attorney. "It’s awful that their negligence caused this child’s death.”

Montgomery was charged with one count of child abuse homicide.

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