Man arrested for leaving granddaughter alone in desert

A man is accused of abandoning his 5-year-old granddaughter in the desert, he reportedly left her with a loaded handgun.

MCSO officials say 53-year-old Paul Rater of Buckeye took his 5-year-old granddaughter off-roading in the family pickup late Sunday night, but the truck became stuck. Her parents reported the girl missing to deputies a few hours later and a helicopter was called to search for the two.

Michael Todd, an off-duty firefighter who was out four-wheeling came upon the mother and grandmother who were extremely distraught. He and the girl's grandmother took off into the desert to look for the little girl. 

Todd and the grandmother found the little girl a short time later, he says the terrain was extremely treacherous and the girl was holding the .45 pistol her grandfather had given her.

Rater was found at a nearby store where he told deputies he left the girl in the desert while he went to get some drinks and a cheeseburger.

Todd says he was just glad he could help reunite the family.

Rater was booked into the Fourth Avenue Jail on two counts of child abuse, and one count of endangerment.