SWEETWATER, Texas — A father abandoned his 4-year-old son along a West Texas highway, and the injured boy spent several hours alone in the dark before a passing motorist picked him up, police said.
Carlos Rico, 22, stopped his car along a cactus-lined stretch of Interstate 20 near Sweetwater at about 3 a.m. Tuesday and “threw the boy out of the car like a bag of garbage,” Sweetwater police Chief Jim Kelley told the Abilene Reporter-News on Tuesday.
The boy was picked up about three hours later by the local high school basketball coach and taken to a hospital, where doctors removed at least 500 cactus spines from the child’s body, Kelley said. The boy was in the state’s custody on Wednesday.
“I’ve seen a lot of bad things. This is absolutely a first. I’ve never seen a 4-year-old angel left on the side of the road for dead. He’s such a sweet little boy,” he said.
Rico was driving from Lubbock to Saginaw when he abandoned his son, and he was taken into custody Tuesday by police in the Fort Worth suburb, Saginaw police spokesman Damon Ing told The Associated Press on Wednesday. Rico’s cousin called police when Rico showed up to see him without his son, and investigators determined that Rico was the father of the boy found near Sweetwater, he said.
Rico told Saginaw investigators that God told him to choke the boy and expel him from the car, Kelley said. There was bruising on the boy’s throat, he said.
Ing said Rico had been charged with child endangerment and did not have a lawyer representing him. His bond was set at $50,000.
Al Hunt, the motorist who found the boy, said he initially thought he was looking at a guardrail post until it moved.
“It took me seconds to realize, `it’s a little kid there,'” the 54-year-old coach said