DUCHESNE — A Duchesne man who was involved in a near-fatal crash in March had physically abused his girlfriend's baby a short time before the wreck, according to charges filed Wednesday.
Jacob Drew Perkins, 23, is charged in 8th District Court with child abuse, a second-degree felony.
Duchesne County sheriff's detectives say Perkins' girlfriend left her 1-year-old son in Perkins' care when she went to work on March 8. Witnesses told investigators Perkins took the infant to the neighboring home of his girlfriend's brother and began drinking alcohol.
After consuming about a fifth of a gallon of alcohol, Perkins took the infant back to his house, where he said he slipped and fell while getting the boy ready for a bath, charging documents state.
Deputy Jared Harrison noted that Perkins first told investigators the fall happened between the bathroom and the boy's room, then said it happened in the boy's room.
"Jacob stated that when 'we' fall, 'I usually try to make it so that (the boy) falls on (me),'" Harrison wrote. But the boy landed underneath him this time, according to Perkins, and was "crying hard."
"Jacob stated that he was panicking and he was drunk and he didn't know what to do," the deputy wrote.
Investigators reported finding blood in the child's crib and evidence that Perkins had tried to clean it up. The infant's mother took her son to the hospital and he was later transferred to Primary Children's Hospital, where a doctor diagnosed a skull fracture, a broken leg and injuries to the boy's mouth and face, the charges state.
The doctor said "the injuries that were inflicted were not likely to have been caused by a fall" and said Perkins' account of what happened "is not consistent with the extent of (the boy's) injuries," Harrison wrote.
Shortly after his girlfriend took her son to the hospital, Perkins stole a car and headed west on U.S. 40, according to investigators.
Just west of Duchesne, Perkins crossed the center line and hit a pickup truck head on, Utah Highway Patrol Lt. Jeff Chugg said after the crash. The first people to reach the scene believed the driver of the truck, Robert Lee Crowley, 69, of Roosevelt, was dead.
"At first, he wasn't breathing," Chugg said. "Then he suddenly started breathing again."
Perkins and Crowley both had to be extricated by firefighters. They were taken to Uintah Basin Medical Center in Roosevelt and later transferred to a hospital in the Salt Lake area for more specialized treatment.
Crowley's wife, Gayle Marie Crowley, 67, was a passenger in the truck. She was also taken to the hospital in Roosevelt as a precaution, Chugg said.
Troopers said they had witness statements and evidence that showed Perkins was driving under the influence at the time of the crash. Charges are still pending in that case.
Investigators believe Perkins left Utah after his release from the hospital. A $10,000 warrant has been issued for his arrest in the child abuse case.