Indiana Man Who Allegedly Strapped Kids to Car Charged

May 15, 2012

A Fort Wayne, Ind., man accused of driving three blocks with four children strapped to the hood of his car while he was intoxicated now faces formal charges, including three felony counts of neglect of a dependent.

Aaron Stefanski, 29, also faces felony and misdemeanor counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated and four misdemeanor counts of criminal recklessness. He was charged Friday, and also cited for four child restraint violations and for driving without insurance, The Journal Gazette reported Saturday.

The mother of the fourth child, 29-year-old Jessica Clark of Fort Wayne, was charged with felony neglect of a dependent.

The two remained in custody Saturday at the Allen County Jail. It wasn’t clear whether Stefanski or Clark had an attorney.

Police say Stefanski and Clark, who are neighbors, stopped Monday evening at a liquor store in Fort Wayne. With them were Stefanski’s two sons, ages 4 and 5, his 6-year-old daughter and Clark’s 7-year-old daughter, police said.

A manager of the liquor store called 911 when he saw Stefanski use a tow strap to secure the four children to the hood of a car and drive away.

While police officers were being dispatched, a U.S. marshal in the area heard the radio and spotted the car with the four kids still on the hood. The marshal stopped Stefanski about three blocks from the liquor store, police said.

Officers arrived a short time later. A breath test found that Stefanski’s blood-alcohol level was 0.17 percent, more than twice Indiana’s legal limit of 0.08 percent, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Friday.

Asked why the kids were riding on the hood, Stefanski told police he thought they would enjoy the experience.

“I was only going to drive around the corner. I thought they would like it,” he said, according to the affidavit.

Police said Stefanski was unkempt and crying, and told officers he had drank two beers at home. In the car, officers found two cold 24-ounce Magnum beers in a pink backpack, police said.

The mother of Stefanski’s three children later took custody of them, police said.

In an interview with police, Clark acknowledged that what Stefanski did “was not in the best interest of the children’s safety,” the affidavit said. Her daughter was placed with the Indiana Department of Child Services, police said.

Stefanski was being held in lieu of $13,000 bail. Clark’s bail was set at $2,500.

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