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An Arizona dad is accused of child abuse after he allegedly left his daughter alone in the Mojave Desert this weekend without shoes or water

By Christine Pelisek
July 25, 2017 04:43 PM
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christopher charles watson

An Arizona dad is accused of child abuse after he allegedly left his 10-year-old daughter alone in the Mojave Desert this weekend without shoes or water, PEOPLE confirms.

Christopher Charles Watson, 28, was arrested Saturday on one felony count of domestic child abuse, according to Trish Carter with Arizona’s Mohave County Sheriff’s Office.

“It is fortunate this kid didn’t end up in the wrong hands of someone,” Carter tells PEOPLE. “There are many predators out there these days. Luckily we didn’t have a major, sad ending.”

Watson was booked into the Mohave County Jail and released Sunday on his own recognizance. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Aug. 4.

Efforts to reach him directly for comment were unsuccessful on Tuesday. Officials say he has not retained an attorney or entered a plea.

According to authorities, the incident with his daughter began about 9 a.m. Saturday when a woman called 911 after she spotted the girl, dressed in pajamas, crying and walking barefoot on asphalt along the outskirts of Kingman, Arizona.

The temperature at the time was 91 degrees.

The girl told investigators that her father allegedly drove her out to the desert that morning and left her there after he got mad at her over an incident with a pen.

“She placed the pen in the driver’s seat, and he wanted it in a certain spot and apparently she didn’t put it in the correct spot,” Carter says. “She [the girl] said he got angry with her and he put her in the car and drove at a high rate of speed onto a dirt road into the desert.”

The girl told authorities that Watson then allegedly forced her out of the truck and she hit her head when she reached for the door handle, according to a news release obtained by PEOPLE.

After Watson allegedly sped off, his daughter walked for about 30 minutes before she came upon the woman who alerted authorities. “[The woman] asked the little girl why she was crying and she said that her dad left her,” the press release states. The woman said she walked the girl to her house and called the sheriff’s office.

The girl was transported to Kingman Regional Medical Center, where she was treated and placed into the custody of Department of Child Safety.

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At around 11 a.m. Sunday, authorities drove to Watson’s house and woke him up from a nap, according to the release. Watson said he and his daughter were allegedly having an argument when he decided to take her for a car ride that morning, which he said had calmed her down in the past.

He claimed that he initially asked his daughter to get out of the truck, but she refused and swore at him. So he “grabbed her by her arm and dragged her across his lap and placed her outside the vehicle and drove the vehicle 10 feet further,” Carter alleges. “He said she gave him the bird, and he drove off.”

Watson claimed he returned home and waited about 15 minutes before he returned for his daughter, but he was unable to find her. He searched for her for two hours before he returned home, he claimed.

“After looking for her for two hours, he went home and took a nap,” Carter says. “And he hoped she would show up at home, and if not he would start calling for help.”