Provo woman arrested after abandoning toddler at hotel, police say

Posted at 11:33 PM, Apr 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-27 01:33:59-04

AMERICAN FORK, Utah — A Provo woman was arrested Saturday after police say she left her child unattended for an extended period of time at a hotel in American Fork.

Sara Marie Zanger, 32, faces one felony count of child abuse with serious injury inflicted recklessly, one misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment, and three misdemeanor drug possession charges.

According to a probable cause affidavit, a guest at the American Fork Holiday Inn called the police after she saw a toddler running around the hotel alone.

Witnesses reported seeing the child run into the parking lot, then being returned to his mother, later identified as Zanger. She then reportedly left the child in the hotel lobby and left.

The woman who called police said the child (whose age was not specified) later wandered into the pool area unattended, so she picked him up and took him to the front desk. She then waited 45 minutes for the mother to return before contacting police. When they arrived, the woman was holding and rocking the child to comfort him.

Police said the child was wearing dirty clothes, had bruises on his hands and face, and had a burn on the back of his hand.

The officer who responded to the hotel searched a nearby stroller and diaper bag, which witnesses said belonged to the child's parents, to look for identification or contact information. During the search, the officer reportedly found a small plastic bag of methamphetamine and several syringes — some of which were uncapped and appeared to have drug residue on them.

The officer called the Division of Child and Family Services, and a DCFS worker responded to the hotel. Twenty minutes later, Zanger arrived with food. She was arrested, and the boy was turned over to child protective services.

After being told her Miranda rights, Zanger told police that the child's father was supposed to be looking after him, but didn't know where he went.

Police asked her about the visible burn on the boy's hand, and she said she accidentally burned him with a blowtorch while smoking methamphetamine a few days prior. She then admitted to using meth and heroin on Saturday, and she also tested positive for those substances.

Zanger was arrested and is being held in the Utah County Jail without bail.