D.C. Mom Pleads Guilty to Cruelty to Children; 10 Kids in Car Involved in Accident with Fire Truck

United States Attorney Kenneth Wainstein announced that Tandra T. Vaughn, 31, of SE, Washington, D.C., pled guilty recently in D.C. Superior Court to First Degree Cruelty to Children for the April 3, 2005 incident in which her car loaded with 10 children collided with a parked fire truck.

Vaughn was reportedly found to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of the collision. Vaughn will face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison when she is sentenced by the Honorable Rhonda Reid-Winston on June 15, 2005. Under the recently adopted Superior Court guidelines, she is facing a likely sentencing range of 18 to 60 months in prison.

According to the information provided to the Court by the government at the hearing, Vaughn drove seven of her children and three nieces and nephews home from a birthday party around 8 p.m. on April 3, 2005. The children ranged in ages between two and 12 years old. All 11 passengers were reportedly packed into a Nissan Altima, a car which seats five people.

Although Vaughn was wearing her seat-belt, only one of the 10 children was reportedly seat-belted, and none were secured in a child safety seat. The collision occurred in the 1300 block of Congress Street, SE (PSA 709), when the defendant veered her car into the opposing lane and struck a parked D.C. fire truck, which was in the area responding to a call for service.

Several of the children were injured in the collision, including a two-year-old who suffered a fractured skull. At the hospital, Vaughn reportedly admitted to drinking one beer and smoking PCP before picking the children up from the party.

Blood tests revealed that Vaughn had a blood-alcohol level of 0.23, almost three times the legal limit for intoxication.