SALT LAKE CITY — The woman who left her handgun in a bathroom at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium in Draper earlier this month will not face reckless endangerment charges, according to Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office.
In a letter to Draper police on Thursday, the office said it is “unable to proceed with a prosecution” against the gun owner because the incident does not fall within legal standards for a charge of reckless endangerment.
On July 10, a mother found the gun sitting atop a folded changing table and called police, who came and collected it.
The mother who found the gun at the time called it a “tragedy waiting to happen” and said she believed the gun owner should face charges for leaving it behind, mere feet from a children’s play area.
Police said they wanted to find the owner of the gun to return it to her and ask her some questions. She contacted police later that night after the story made headlines.
“She was extremely apologetic, extremely upset and embarrassed about what she had done,” Draper Police Sgt. Scott Adams said at the time.
After the owner came forward, police said they would give information about the incident to the district attorney’s office to screen possible charges.
In the letter, Chief Deputy District Attorney Jeffrey Hall wrote that to be charged with reckless endangerment, a person knowingly creates risk of death or injury to another person, the letter states, adding that someone does not commit reckless endangerment simply “by acting negligently.”
“If someone creates a risk of death or serious bodily injury and he or she ‘ought to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk,’ then the person may have acted with criminal negligence, but the person did not act ‘recklessly’ under Utah State law,” Hall wrote.
The woman told police she left the gun on the changing table and used the restroom, after which her kids “started running around” and she got distracted, according to the Adams.
Her children “climbing under the bathroom stall and running off” might explain the woman’s forgetfulness, Hall said in his letter.
Under Utah law, the woman would’ve had to be aware of the risk of leaving her gun in the bathroom and then chosen to leave it there anyway, Hall added, in order to be charged with reckless endangerment.