Woman arrested after Washington County Sheriff’s deputies find baby freezing near creek

Composite image with background stock photo and overlay of Washington County Sheriff's Office patrol vehicle | Photo by Cody Blowers, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A woman is in jail facing child abuse charges after deputies found her 1-year-old freezing near a creek in Central.

Photo of Muddy Creek (for illustrative purposes only) in Central, Utah, date unspecified | Photo courtesy of G. Thomas at Wikipedia, St. George News

On Saturday, Washington County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to a residence in Central shortly before 8:30 p.m. on a report of a suspicious vehicle.

According to charging documents filed with the courts, deputies arrived to learn from the 911 caller the pickup truck was owned by a woman who had an infant, but neither she nor the baby were in the vehicle and the reporting party had no idea where they were.

Police say the caller also reported finding a blanket and a car seat on the ground near the truck and said the blanket appeared to belong to the baby.

Through the course of the investigation, deputies spoke to a witness who reported hearing the sound of yelling coming from the creek area, and when he followed the sound, he said, the bystander found a woman yelling near the creek who was wet from the waist down. He then saw a baby “with no shoes, no blanket, no socks and no jacket,” the report states.

The deputy also noted the temperature in Central was approximately 30 degrees at the time, adding there was snow on the ground.

As soon as deputies made it down to the creek they called for an ambulance. When emergency medical personnel arrived, they found the 1-year-old shivering from the cold, with trembling legs and purple feet, signs that the child was freezing, the report states. The baby was then transported to the hospital by ambulance for evaluation and treatment.

Meanwhile, deputies spoke to the child’s mother, identified as 40-year-old Shauna Nicole Wagenman, who said she had taken her son to the creek earlier that same day, saying she went to the creek because she had not been there for a while.

While there, the suspect reportedly said she accidentally fell into the creek, and then realized she did not have her cell phone on her.

When asked about the baby’s state of dress, Wagenman responded by saying her son had kicked off his socks at some point, but she hadn’t put the socks back on the child since she did not realize they had come off his feet, authorities say. She also said she attempted to climb back up the hill, but became caught in the brush and started yelling for help.

Wagenman also said she had gone down to the creek at about 4 p.m., more than four hours before responders found her.

The suspect was placed under arrest and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility facing third-degree felony child abuse with serious physical injury recklessly, as well as misdemeanor reckless endangerment.

Deputies contacted the Division of Children and Family Services to report the incident, and when they explained the situation the agency said they have had “numerous” reports on Wagenman and her baby, “but did not have a valid address for her to open a case,” according to the report.

St. George News reached out to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office for comment. Chief Deputy Brock Bentley said the child was turned over to the Division of Children and Family Services following the mother’s arrest, but other than that, they had no further details at the time.

On Monday, the Washington County Attorney’s Office filed formal charges, and the suspect made an initial appearance in 5th District Court. A bail reduction hearing was scheduled in the case and will take place Thursday.

This report is based on statements from court records, police or other responders and may not contain the full scope of findings. Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2022, all rights reserved.

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