Authorities have arrested a man for abandoning his son at a Nephi gas station as well as for DUI charges in Spanish Fork on Thursday evening. Mark Yates, 49, abandoned his son because the boy misread directions to the nearest marijuana dispensary.
According to the PC statement provided by Juab County, an officer on patrol arrived at a Nephi gas station at approximately 7:47 p.m. responding to a report of a found child. There, the officer discovered a 13-year-old boy wearing only a t-shirt and shorts, with "no shoes or socks." The boy told police that his father left him at the gas station and drove away, and the boy refused to tell the officer his father's name when asked. The boy told the officer that his dad left him at the gas station because his dad said "he was too much and he needed a break from him."
The boy was not from the area, but did provide the contact information of his mother who lives in Louisiana. The boy's mother provided officers Yates' name, but not his phone number, as she was unsure if he had a phone. She also told officers that she and Yates had been separated for five years and were not on speaking terms, but both had custody of the boy. The officer then contacted the Division of Child Services to have a social worker pick the boy up.
The officer was then notified that police in Spanish Fork had stopped Yates for allegedly driving under the influence. According to the Spanish Fork Police Department, Yates was pulled over at approximately 11 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 15 for going 20 miles over the speed limit. The Spanish Fork police officer noticed that Yates had glossy, bloodshot eyes and slurred speech and having two open beer cans in his van, court documents say.
According to court couments, Yates provided the officer with a different name and birthdate when asked and claimed to not have any form of identification on him. The officer performed a DUI investigation on the van and found a wallet containing two social security cards for individuals with the surname Yates. When asked about the social security cards, Yates claimed that they were his children. Yates eventually told the officer his real name, and that the identity he initially provided was supposedly a name of a friend who allowed him to use his information if needed.
Officers then performed sobriety tests on Yates at the Utah County Jail, in which he tested positive for alcohol and THC.
Shortly after Yates was arrested for driving under the influence, his son was taken into the Nephi Police Department and was eventually released under their custody, according to the Juab County statement.
Police say the boy revealed that he and Yates do not have a home and have been living in their van, occasionally staying at hotels. He stated that they've lived in approximately 10 or 11 states in the past 5 years. The boy said that they left the hotel they were staying at to go get marijuana at the closest marijuana shop and he inputted the directions for the shop, thinking it was legal. The phone revealed that the shop was actually 110 miles from the hotel they were staying at and that is when Yates, angry at his son for misreading the directions, abandoned his son at the Nephi gas station.
Yates is charged in Juab County for child abandonment and reckless endangerment. He is also charged in Utah County for speeding, driving an uninsured vehicle, having an open container in the vehicle, driving under the influence, and providing false personal information to an officer.
It is unknown at the time if the boy is back in custody with his mother.