The temperature was over 90 degrees when a woman saw a 10-year-old girl walking alone down a Mojave Desert highway with bare feet and tears in her eyes. When the woman asked the girl why she was out there, the child replied that her father had driven her out to the hot, barren sands and left her there.
There are a lot of things out in the desert that will end you. Scaled and venomous creatures, daggered plants, and the dry heat will suck the soul right out of you: it’s not a welcoming place, and certainly not a place you’d expect to find a wandering child.
This the kind of horrible story that makes it hard to find a silver lining. Yet, it’s exactly the kind of horrible story that makes us appreciate the acts of simple goodness we share with each other, and with our own children or the people we love every day.
The woman took the little girl home and called the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office. Officers responded shortly after, and eventually arrested Christoper Charles Watson, her father.
The girl revealed the whole story. Her father, she says, drove her out to desert, bit her as he forced her out of the truck, and sped away.
Watson is being charged with the felony crime of “child abuse per domestic violence.” The Department of Child Safety took his daughter and his 9-year-old son.
Watson told the police that he had driven his daughter out to the desert in order to calm her down after a long argument they’d been having. He says he went back after about 15 minutes to find her, but returned home when he couldn’t do so.
The police say they smelled alcohol on Watson and that he’d been sleeping when they found him. That raises the specter of alcoholism as a contributing factor in this situation, but it’s difficult to feel sorry for a man after he’s left daughter in the desert, an act which is essentially a death sentence.
Nothing is really gained by heaping hatred upon the man, though. Even if it might be justified.
What is easy to forget in hearing these stories is that they are so shocking precisely because they are so abnormal. For every one of these foolish, destructive acts, there are hundreds or thousands of little acts of kindness that go on all around us, unnoticed.
If that were not the case, then these horror stories wouldn’t shock us so badly. It was the kindness of a stranger that saved the girl from a worse outcome than the one she experienced — let’s not forget that.
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