ST. GEORGE — Two children were taken to the hospital with second-degree burns and a man was arrested after his story did not match the burn patterns found on the toddlers’ bodies — leading police to believe he intentionally burned the children with hot liquid.
Hurricane Police Officer Ken Thompson told St. George News that the arrest stems from an investigation that began Oct. 2 when an individual called police to report suspicious burns on two toddlers that took place the night before. The caller reported that once they saw photos of the burns, they became suspicious and called police.
At the time of the incident, the suspect, 24-year-old Austin Woolsey, was watching the children. Thompson said Woolsey told the family he was walking with a cup of hot chocolate and tripped, causing the liquid to spill on both children, both of whom were taken to the emergency room that same night and treated for second-degree burns.
One of the children, a 2-year-old, suffered a large burn to the left side of his body that began just under the toddler’s arm and chest and then continued downward, where it transitioned across the side of the child’s torso and stopped just above the diaper line.
The officer also noted that the burn on the child’s upper chest area appeared to break in a straight line.
The second child, a 3-year-old, sustained burns to his forehead and neck area, both of which were on the left side of the toddler’s body. The officer also noted in the probable cause statement filed with the courts that the burns on both children appeared to have been caused by “a hot liquid that was poured on the body.”
When officers met with Woolsey at his residence, the suspect walked the officers through the events that led up to the hot chocolate being spilled on the children and told police it was “an accident,” the arresting officer noted in the report.
“I could see the story Austin told me and how he described the events did not correspond to the burns,” the officer noted.
When asked specifically, Woolsey reportedly admitted to intentionally pouring hot water on the children, telling officers “he wanted to see what it would do,” Thompson said, adding that the liquid was poured on each child separately.
The report also states the suspect admitted to officers that he knew it was wrong and that he’d “learned his lesson,” telling police that after it happened, he felt “kinda sad.”
Thompson said a family member of Woolsey’s told officers that he has autism.
Woolsey was arrested and transported to Purgatory Correctional Facility and was charged the following day with two second-degree felony counts of child abuse-inflicting serious injury intentionally. He was released from custody Wednesday and is scheduled to make an initial appearance Dec. 28.
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.
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