Dad leaves son without shoes, socks at Utah gas station for misreading directions to pot dispensary, police say

Mark Yates. Photo Courtesy: Utah County Jail

JUAB COUNTY, Utah, Nov. 8, 2020 (Gephardt Daily) — A man allegedly left his child at a Nephi gas station wearing no shoes and socks after the boy misread directions to a marijuana dispensary.

A probable cause statement from the 4th District Court of Juab County said Mark Yates, 49, is facing charges of:

  • Child abandonment, a third-degree felony
  • Reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor

The arresting officer responded to a gas station for a found child Thursday evening, the statement said.

“I arrived to the gas station to find a crying 13-year-old boy, the boy was wearing only a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, no shoes or socks, or sweatshirt,” the statement said. “The boy said that his father left him at the gas station and drove away. When asking the boy his father’s name he would not cooperate or tell me, he said that he didn’t want to get him into trouble, he said that his dad said that he was too much and needed a break from him.”

The boy told the officer he is not from here and his closest family member is his mother in Louisiana. The boy gave his mother’s name and telephone number. The officer then called the boy’s mother, “who was very upset, and said that she would come get him but it would take her a couple days.”

The officer told the boy’s mother that her son would be placed in state custody if the father or a family member could not be found. The mother gave the officer the boy’s father’s name but said she did not know if he had a phone.

“She said that she only calls her son to make sure he’s OK,” the statement said. “The mother said that they had been separated for five years and they don’t talk, she said that they both have custody of their son.”

The arresting officer contacted the Division of Child and Family Services while another officer searched the area for the van that Yates left in.

The arresting officer was then notified that Yates had been stopped by a Spanish Fork police officer on I-15 northbound at mile marker 257. He was approximately 30 miles away from the gas station.

Yates was arrested for driving under the influence. The boy told officers that they do not have a home and “jump from state to state living in the van, that they are eventually going to be converting into a camper, and occasionally staying in hotels,” the statement said. “He said that they have lived in 10-11 states in the last five years.”

The boy said that they left the hotel they were staying at to go get marijuana at the closest dispensary. He said that he thought it was legal, so he typed it in his phone and that is where they were headed. He said that the phone said that it was 110 miles from the hotel they were staying at, he said that his father got mad at him because he misread the directions and they missed an exit to the marijuana dispensary, which is when his father dropped him off at the gas station and left.

Yates was transported to Utah County Jail, where he is being held without bail.


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