Just when you think it can't get worse than grandparents tying their granddaughter's toy car to the back of their SUV with a dog leash and taking her for a spin, Aaron Stefanski and Jessica Clark may have bested them when it comes to outrageous joyrides with kids. And by bested, I mean they've done something even more horrifically unthinkable and dangerous.
The adventure started, not so surprisingly, at a liquor store yesterday -- Belmont Beverage in Fort Wayne, Ind. Witnesses say they saw the car leave the parking lot with four children (ages 4-7), not just not secured in car seats (which would be bad enough), but instead strapped to the hood of the car.
Then the car took off down the road.
Witness Tom Nowak told station INC: "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."
I'm stunned; seriously stunned. The kids, of course, were all for it, and told the station that Stefanski (the father of three of the children) and Clark (who is mother of the fourth child) asked them if they wanted to do it, and they said, "yes, because it sounded like fun.”
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Why these parents thought it would be fun or a good idea is anyone's guess. I'm sure the alcohol didn't help, but wow. The things that could have happened to these children are unimaginable.
Fortunately they're fine as plenty of witnesses saw it happening (how could you miss such a spectacle?) and called the police before anyone got hurt. A U.S. Marshall pulled them over after a few blocks, and Stefanski was arrested. He's been charged with Operating While Intoxicated and Neglect of a Dependent, which doesn't sound nearly severe enough for something that could have killed four children.
Clark almost got away, but the witnesses apparently wouldn't let her. "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. She was later taken to the police station for questioning, and she should be punished just as harshly as Stefanski was if she did nothing to stop him.
The whole thing just makes my head swim and brings me to that poignant quote from the movie Parenthood: "You need a license to drive, a license to fish, heck, you even need a license for your dog. But any [idiot] can be a parent." Maybe we need to start rethinking it.
Can you believe this couple would take their kids for a joyride in this manner? Do stories like these even surprise you anymore?