Stanford Wero and Tamara Lake of Flagstaff Convicted for Taking 8-Month-Old Baby on Long Grand Canyon Hike

Stanford Wero, Tamara Lake, and Lake's uncle, Vinton Whitehat, are three reasons why signs at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon warn people not to try to walk all the way to the Colorado River and back in one day.

After setting out down the South Kaibab trail and hiking to the river with Wero and Lake's 8-month-old daughter, the trio experienced severe exhaustion and hunger.

Wero ate part of the baby's food, records show. Then, concluding there was no way they'd make it back up if they had to carry the baby, they gave her to a stranger.

Court records show that Wero and Lake netted one year of supervised probation following their federal misdemeanor conviction in December for imperiling the infant's life during the October 19 hike.

The family members, who live in Flagstaff, drove to the Grand Canyon on the morning of the 19th, took a shuttle bus to the Kaibab, and began the 17-mile hike, which includes a descent and ascent of about 5,000 feet.

They were ridiculously unprepared for the burly hike, taking one small water bottle each, no flashlights, no extra-warm clothes despite rim temperatures in the low 40s, and no food except for formula and a fruit cup for the baby, which sat in an infant-carrying backpack. Whitehat brought a soda and drank it at the bottom.

As they began hiking up, Wero ate part of the baby's fruit cup, records state. They stopped for a while at a water faucet, drinking from their small bottles and refilling them repeatedly before setting out again up the trail.

Fortunately, they ran into James Magee, who gave them some of his food.

Wero and Whitehat were complaining of bad cramps and leg pains -- not that Wero should have been surprised by his pain, considering that he's a disabled iron worker with "rods in both legs" because of a severe fall four years ago, 2010 court records state. (Wero has a troubled past that includes a conviction and prison time for the severe choking and beating of his former wife in 2009.)

Whitehat told Magee that no one in the group was able to carry the girl any farther up the trail. Magee offered to trade them his small backpack for the infant in her carrier, and the trio agreed.

As the hikers made their way up, Magee noticed that Lake was carrying 10 pounds of weights around her waist despite her obvious fatigue. About three miles from the rim, she heeded Magee's advice and removed the weights, which were carried up by an unknown hiker.

The baby, wearing only a thin, purple onesie, wouldn't stop crying and seemed to Magee to be growing cold. Wero and Lake put a hat on her her. Magee began to hike faster with the girl, pulling away from the family members. He arrived at the top of Bright Angel trail at about 6:30 p.m. and took the baby into Bright Angel Lodge for assistance.

The trio arrived at the top about 20 minutes later and, not immediately seeing Magee and their baby, told a shuttle bus driver that their daughter had been kidnapped. Authorities soon arrived and cited Wero and Lake, putting their baby temporarily under the care of state Child Protective Services, a February 22 bulletin from the National Park Service states. The bulletin doesn't identify the parents; New Times later tracked down the names.

Wero's still on probation for the above-mentioned assault case, but the Arizona U.S. Attorney's office decided not to revoke his probation based on the Grand Canyon incident.

After pleading guilty, Wero and Lake, a U.S. Army veteran, were also fined $75 and ordered to take parenting classes.

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.