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Charges may serve as lesson

Thanks for Wednesday's follow-up story about the charges filed against the mother of the toddler who fell from the old bakery building in Medford. I'm glad the neighbor caught the little boy and that he is safe. I hope this is a lesson to parents. Children cannot be left unattended. But I'm curious why only the mother was charged. If I remember correctly, the toddler got himself into trouble on a Sunday. Where was the father? Was he there? Why wasn't he cited?

— Betty L., White City

We at the Since You Asked Department of Close Calls are grateful also that 3-year-old Freddie is safe, Betty.

And we're equally glad 21-year-old Kristen Beach was able to save the tyke from a disastrous fall after she saw him hanging onto a small lip around the edge of the roof of the former Fluhrer's Bread building at 25 N. Holly St., where his family lived in an apartment.

We checked with police and prosecutors about the whereabouts of Freddie's father that day. Frederick James McCarthy, 22, was not present when little Freddie was hanging from the ledge or when Beach caught him, but he arrived shortly afterward, according to police, and rode in the ambulance with the boy to the hospital.

Court records show McCarthy was arrested two years ago for a drunk-driving incident that involved the toddler and the mother. McCarthy was charged on June 10, 2010, with one count each of driving under the influence of intoxicants, reckless driving and child neglect. He also was charged with two counts of recklessly endangering another. He pleaded guilty one month later to a single count each of recklessly endangering and child neglect. McCarthy entered a diversion program for the drunk-driving charge, which he successfully completed.

As you noted, the young mother, Amelia Marion Elizabeth Smith, 22, on Tuesday was indicted on four felony charges of criminal mistreatment. She also has pleaded not guilty to two misdemeanor counts of endangering a minor and one misdemeanor count of reckless endangerment.

Prosecutor David Orr said the four felony counts address the boy who fell July 1; Smith's 10-month-old daughter, who was in the apartment; and different legal theories related to the children's safety that day.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by email to youasked@mailtribune.com. We're sorry, but the volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.