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Man accused of fleeing police with 3-year-old unrestrained in pickup

January 4, 2019
Jeffrey Dale Southern

CALDWELL — A Caldwell man who left a domestic disturbance scene allegedly did so while driving under the influence, reaching speeds of up to 80 mph in a pickup with an unrestrained 3-year-old child inside, according to copies of probable cause affidavits.

In the late hours of Jan. 1, a child in a Caldwell residence ran outside yelling to neighbors that his father was hurting his mother, according to a probable cause affidavit from the Caldwell Police Department.

Fifty-year-old Jeffrey Dale Southern, accused of threatening and injuring his wife while holding a butcher knife, left the scene with another child in the residence, a 3-year-old. He allegedly placed the child in his black 1999 Dodge pickup, failing to place the child in a car seat, and drove away, the affidavit claims.

Southern was stopped by a Canyon County sheriff’s deputy about 11 p.m. on Centennial Way and Freeport Street but fled the officer. The officer did not pursue him due to the child being unrestrained in the pickup, the affidavit states.

Again, a little after midnight, a Caldwell police officer found Southern, this time parked in front of a power pole on East Ustick Road near Farmway Road. The officer exited his patrol vehicle and attempted to get Southern to follow commands. While doing so, the officer reported seeing the child moving around inside the cab. Southern again fled the scene.

The officer followed only for a short time. Once the officer reached speeds of about 40 mph, he stopped chasing the pickup, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit claims that on two separate occasions, Southern reached speeds of up to 70 mph and 80 mph while eluding officers and sometimes drove without his headlights on.

About 12:37 a.m. Wednesday, a report came in from a Nampa resident that a man was at the door asking for gasoline. The man was Southern, and Canyon County sheriff’s deputies arrived at the house to place Southern under arrest.

A car seat was not found in the pickup, and the affidavit claims five beer bottles were. Sheriff’s deputies learned that Southern had struck a power pole during the incident, causing the passenger window to shatter.

The child sustained minor injuries and was found with glass in their hair, according to an affidavit from the sheriff’s office.

Southern’s blood alcohol content level measured 0.124, less than twice the legal limit of 0.08, according to the affidavit.

Southern was charged with felony injury to a child, eluding officers and aggravated assault. He also was charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence and failure to notify law enforcement of an accident. He remains in jail on a $250,000 bond, according to the Idaho online courts repository.

According to the affidavit, Southern’s wife told officers he was on federal probation for gun-related charges. Southern, too, told officers he was on federal probation.

In January 2016, the Meridian Press reported that a Jeffrey Southern, whose age matches up with the Caldwell suspect, was sentenced to a year in prison, with three years of supervised release, for unlawfully possessing three firearms in Meridian — a charge he pleaded guilty to in August of that year. Southern was prohibited from having guns because of a prior felony conviction for assault in California, which landed him with a 10-year sentence.

Reporter Riley Bunch contributed to this report.

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