A 45-year-old Indiana grandfather has been charged with child abuse after trying to toughen up his three grandsons with brutal hikes in the Grand Canyon, according to park rangers. He was busted after rangers and tourists observed him abusing the boys, ages 12, 9, and 8, MSNBC reports. The boys told police they had been hit, choked, whipped, forced to run up trails under the blazing sun at temperatures as high as 108 degrees, and denied food and water during the hikes. Carlson had told them to "look happy" if they passed other people on the trail.
On the day Carlson was arrested last weekend, the boys were forced on a 19-mile hike in extremely hot conditions that left another hiker dead. After one of the boys secretly asked a passerby for help, rangers observed Carlson whipping one boy with a rolled-up T-shirt and confronted him. On a hike two weeks earlier, rangers found him with the children, exhausted from a 7-mile hike and told him to take the boys out of the park instead of hiking another 12 miles as planned. Medical examiners found that the boys had suffered injuries that were in various stages of healing, severe sunburn, and symptoms of heat stroke, reports the Arizona Daily Sun.