Fort Wayne, IN (Indiana's NewsCenter) -- Fort Wayne Police have arrested two individuals they say strapped their kids on the hood of the car with a tow strap before leaving a liquor store.
Aaron Stefanski, 29, of Fort Wayne, is the father of three of the four children, and also the driver of the car. Police have charged him with Neglect of a Dependent, a Class "D" felony, and three counts of Operating While Intoxicated. Police say Stefanski had a Bloood Alcohol level of .17%, more than two times the legal limit.
Jessica A. Clark, 29, Fort Wayne, is also charged with Neglect of a Dependent. She is the mother of the fourth child. Police say she helped to strap the children to the hood of the car and accompanied Stefanski in the passenger seat.
We told you first here on INC, four innocent children, ages 4, 5, 6, and 7, were strapped to the hood of a moving car. They're okay, but Fort Wayne Police say the adults behind the wheel will face some serious charges.
Indiana’s NewsCenter had a chance to speak with the children after the incident. They told us the adults asked if they wanted to ride on the hood of the car and they said, "yes, because it sounded like fun.”
This happened at the Belmont Beverage on 2116 Fairfield Avenue. Witnesses say they saw the couple inside the car pull out of the lot onto Fairfield with four kids strapped to the hood.
“With one of those straps you crank on a semi to hold down lumber, they were strapped with that thing, wiggling and wobbling down the street,” said Tom Nowak, a witness to the incident.
Nowak said everyone around called police, and an off-duty U.S. Marshal in the area pulled the car over on the 400 block of Poplar St. The man driving is the father to three of the children. He was arrested. The female passenger is the mother to the fourth child. Witnesses say after they were pulled over, the woman began to leave and disposed of a cup she had in her hand.
“Everyone said, ‘No! She watched it all, sat in the passenger seat and let it all happen. Take her too!’ So they called her back and handcuffed her,” Nowak said. The woman was later taken to the police station for questioning.
Nowak says he couldn’t believe his eyes. Keith Kennedy, another witness, says after police arrested the man, the man said, “It was only 20 feet,” and acted as if it was a joke.
“I thought, come on, you know? Those kids' lives were at risk. If he would've turned and one of the kids would've fell, he would've run right over them,” said Kennedy.
Child Protective Services were called to the scene. Sarah, the mother of three of the children says they're with her, safe at home and will now be staying with her full time. Sarah did not want to be interviewed on camera, but told INC that she's, "livid and in shock.” She said, “if she knew their father was going to do this, she never would've let them go with him." Sarah says her ex-husband has been a big help with the kids and she was happy he was in their lives. Now she’s told her children can no longer see their father, and she’s overwhelmed with the idea of being a single mother. As for the fourth child, she will be staying with her grandparents.
FWPD has charged the driver (father of three) for DWI. Both the father and female passenger (mother of one) could face additional charges. Police say they’re exploring possible child neglect and endangerment charges.
Click Here to read the Fort Wayne Police Department press release.
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