Mother Sobs in Court Hearing Account of Brutal Abuse - FOX 10 News |

Mother Sobs in Court Hearing Account of Brutal Abuse


These children were forced to hike the Grand Canyon in sweltering heat, given little food and water, and pushed so hard they became sick.

Investigators say that's the abuse three young boys suffered at the hands of their own grandfather. Now, we're hearing from those boys' mother.

The family is from Indiana, and when the boys' grandfather offered to bring them out west, complete with a trip to Disneyland -- their mother thought it would be a great way for them to spend the summer. There were also visits to Central America and Jamaica.

But now, their 45-year-old grandfather is locked up in a Flagstaff jail, facing six counts of child abuse.

Tara Danaher is the mother of the three boys. She was overcome with emotion outside of a Flagstaff courthouse Thursday.

She says she had no idea her sons' Grand Canyon vacation with their grandfather would lead to allegations of torturous child abuse.

"I want to know what the hell happened," says Danaher.

According to court documents, Christopher Carlson forced his grandsons, ages 8, 9 and 12, on a torturous 18-mile hike through the canyon in 108 degree temperatures in August.

Park rangers said the boys looked exhausted and overheated, and had been given only small amounts of food and water.

"Well, if that occurred, outrageous, and this granddad will not be around his grandkids again, I can assure you that," says Danaher's attorney.

Her attorney says it was supposed to be a fun vacation for the boys.

"I think any parent would think hey that's great, but unfortunately it turned into a nightmare of a trip," he says.

Danaher says she talked to her boys throughout their summer vacation with their grandfather, and they never told her anything was wrong.

"Tara is a normal mom, she comes out here from Indiana, she's very concerned about her kids, and she's horrified by the allegations about what happened," her attorney says.

Park rangers were told by other hikers about the kids getting sick on the hike -- and that's what lead to Carlson's arrest.

He says he was only trying to prepare his grandsons for the cruel world and to make them stronger.

Follow this story: Child Abuse Nightmare Comes to End at Grand Canyon

Read the 24-page criminal complaint [Caution: graphic content]:

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