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Grandad tortured us on 42C hike, say boys

A man forced his three young grandsons to hike 18 miles in 42C heat at the Grand Canyon and denied them food and water, police have said.

Christopher Carlson (45) remains in custody on six counts of child abuse. The boys, ages 12, nine and eight, told investigators they had been hit, pushed, choked, pinched and squeezed during trips on a popular trail at the canyon's South Rim last month.

On the latest hike over the weekend down the Bright Angel Trail, temperatures reached 42C at Phantom Ranch along the Colorado River. A ranger spotted the group with binoculars on the trail and saw Carlson shoving the oldest boy and whipping him with a rolled-up tee-shirt, authorities said.

National Park Service Special Agent Chris Smith testified that Carlson told authorities that the boys had been overweight and that he thought the hike would get them into shape.

"He told me that he loved his grandchildren very much, but at the same time there were tough people in the world and his grandchildren needed to be tough as well," Smith said.

Authorities said Carlson tortured and beat the boys, and instructed them to lie to park rangers about any injuries. Rangers and passers-by noted the alleged abuse by Carlson, according to court documents. The boys said Carlson also forced their fingers down their throats, making them vomit.

Rangers fed and hydrated the boys inside an ambulance and they were placed in the care of child protective services. One boy had symptoms of heat stroke, while the other two exhibited signs of heat exhaustion and dehydration.

Carlson took the children on the latest hike on August 28. A man died the same day on another trail at the Grand Canyon due to heat exposure. The boy's mother, Tara Danaher (28), from Indianapolis, sobbed at a court hearing. She said her children went on trips with their grandfather this summer, including to Central America and Jamaica. She said she talked with her children and that they never expressed any concerns.