CRIME

Neighbors defend man who police say ‘hockey checked’ teen breaking his elbow

May 1, 2018, 6:04 PM | Updated: May 2, 2018, 1:40 am

WOODS CROSS, Utah – A father is facing felony child abuse charges after police say he checked a 13-year-old boy, breaking his elbow and causing a concussion during a broom hockey game at church.

Davis County prosecutors said the victim’s injuries were serious enough to warrant serious charges against Ryan Reed Stettler, 37.

Sgt. Mitch Gwilliam, North Salt Lake Police Dept.

“They were playing broom hockey,” said Sgt. Mitch Gwilliam with the North Salt Lake Police Department. Parents familiar with the incident told KSL the game was part of a scouting activity at their LDS meeting house and about a dozen people were involved.

“It’s not where you would expect to have an incident like this occur,” said Sgt. Gwilliam.

According to charging documents, the teens were playing broom hockey when one boy ran into Steller’s son, and Stettler lowered his shoulder and knocked the 13-year-old down.

“It sounds like the father may have been unhappy about something that the other child, not his child, had done to his child, and that’s what instigated this,” Sgt. Gwilliam continued.

The boy told investigators that Stettler also said something like, “You can dish it out, but you can’t take it,” according to the court paperwork.

“It’s a pretty significant charge: felony child abuse,” said Sgt. Gwilliam. “So prosecutors want to make sure that we had all of the interviews completed.”

Investigators said the boy needed surgery on his broken elbow and also suffered a concussion.

KSL went to Stettler’s home to ask him about the incident. He said he couldn’t talk on the advice of his lawyer.

Sarah Richins, Stettler’s neighbor

Neighbors are coming to his defense. “I can’t imagine that there was anything intentional,” said Sarah Richins, who lives nearby and says she’s known Stettler for nearly a decade. “Nobody wants to hurt a child.”

Richins was not at the March 6 game, but she said she knows everyone involved, and trusts Stettler with her four boys. Adding that he’s been a wonderful scout leader.

“Knowing him, there’s no way that I would ever believe that he did this intentionally, trying to injure somebody else’s child,” Richins said. But from what she knows about the broom hockey game, she does not believe it rises to the level of criminal charges.

“This was scouts. This is a bunch of boys goofing around, and their scout leaders goofing around with them. There’s no bad blood in this neighborhood… We all look out for everyone else’s kids.”

Prosecutors filed charges Tuesday morning. No date has been set yet for Stettler’s initial appearance in court.

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Neighbors defend man who police say ‘hockey checked’ teen breaking his elbow