PORT ANGELES — A father who allegedly left his 9-year-old diabetic son home alone before crashing into a parked car Thursday evening has been charged with third-degree abandonment of a dependent person, a gross misdemeanor.
State Child Protective Services took custody of the boy at 3:30 a.m. Friday. The boy was sleeping and said he had not eaten dinner.
The boy’s father, Scott Frederick Horn, 49, of Port Angeles, was transported to Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles following the crash, where he was administered Narcan, an opioid overdose medication, according to an arrest report.
Horn was charged Friday under a state law that does not set an age limit for how old a child must be to be left alone without adult supervision, saying the offense occurs when “abandoning the child or other dependent person creates an imminent and substantial risk that the child or other person will suffer substantial bodily harm” (https://tinyurl.com/PDN-ChildAbandonment).
Clallam County District Court 1 Judge Dave Neupert ordered Horn to be released on his own recognizance pending his July 23 pretrial hearing.
Nuepert added the extraordinary condition of holding Horn for 24 hours before his release due to Horn’s behavior at the hearing.
Asked by Neupert how he supports himself, Horn replied, “I keep the house clean.”
Horn said he had no source of income and was appointed a lawyer from Clallam Public Defender.
Horn’s speech was groggy, and as the hearing progressed, his head fell forward and down facing the table while he sat, as though he had passed out.
“Mr. Horn presents as someone today who is under the influence of some substance,” Neupert said.
Horn’s attorney, sitting next to Horn during the hearing, questioned Neupert about the 24-hour hold.
“The basis is about 2 feet away from you, counsel,” Neupert replied.
Horn, a West 18th Street resident, collided at about 8:19 p.m. Thursday with a vehicle parked about a mile away on the 1200 block of West 16th Street.
His airbags deployed. He was transported to Olympic Medical Center complaining of chest pain, telling an officer he had not been drinking or taking drugs.
Horn fell asleep at the wheel, he said.
Horn told the ambulance crew his son was at home by himself, then told Port Angeles Police Officer Michael Johnson the boy was being supervised by an adult, then told emergency room staff at about 1 a.m. Friday that the boy was a passenger in the vehicle, according to the arrest report.
Emergency Department staff contacted police for a welfare check on the boy after the third explanation.
Port Angeles Police Office Jared Tait found the boy alone at the apartment at about 1 a.m. Friday, asleep on the couch, according to the arrest report.
The boy said he had not seen his father since earlier that evening and that his father “had left and no one had been with him to provide care,” according to the arrest report.
The boy said he had been diagnosed with diabetes in March and gives himself regular injections of insulin when he eats food.
Tait said he did a security sweep of the house and saw a pipe that is used to smoke methamphetamine behind the door of Horn’s bedroom.
“I was advised that by Cpl. [Bruce] Fernie that Scott was currently in restraints at OMC as he was experiencing a reaction to controlled substances,” Tait said.
Tait contacted CPS, which took custody of the boy at 3:27 a.m. Friday.
Tait said the boy had been left alone for about five hours.
“I believe that he was at imminent risk of suffering substantial bodily harm without proper supervision,” he said.
Horn, “agitated and yelling,” was asked about his son’s claim that he was alone.
He said the boy was being watched by his girlfriend, according to the police report.
Johnson first issued a criminal citation for leaving a child unattended under the Port Angeles Municipal Code.
According to Chapter 9.38.010 of the code, it’s illegal to leave a child under age 12 alone.
“It shall be unlawful for any person having in his custody, or under his control, as parent, guardian or otherwise, any child under the age of 12 years to place or leave said child unattended by a competent or responsible person in a car, home or under any other circumstances whereby said child may be in danger or suffer through want of attention to its needs,” PAMC Chapter 9.38.010 says.
“Leaving children unattended is a Class II misdemeanor.”
Johnson later determined that under prevailing medical opinion, insulin-dependent diabetic children under 12 should not administer their own medication.
The boy had not eaten dinner because his father was not home and had not administered his insulin because he had not eaten, “making him more susceptible to a blood sugar crash over the night while he slept.” Johnson said in his report.
Children under 12 “are significantly more affected by insulin than adults and are more susceptible to a blood sugar crash that could be potentially fatal,” Johnson said.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].