DOCUMENT: Stupid, Crime

Cops: Parents Used Kids As Hood Ornaments

Indiana duo drove with four children strapped to Chevy

Dumb and Dumber

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Kids Strapped To Hood

MAY 8--Two Indiana parents are facing felony child neglect charges after they allegedly drove around with their respective children tied to the hood of a car with a yellow tow strap, police report.

The children--aged 4, 5, 6, and 7--were not harmed during the bizarre incident late yesterday afternoon in Fort Wayne.

The car’s driver, Aaron Stefanski, 29, is the biological father of three of the children. He was arrested on drunk driving and child neglect charges. Passenger Jessica Clark--the mother of the fourth child strapped to the vehicle--was busted for child neglect. Stefanski and Clark, 29, are pictured in the above mug shots.

According to probable cause affidavits, cops received a complaint that “a male white had strapped four young children to the hood” of a white sedan and “drove South on Fairfield with the children still strapped to the hood of the vehicle.”

The 911 call was placed by the manager of a liquor store who reported spotting a man using a ratchet strap to lash “four children to the hood of the vehicle,” and then driving off, according a Fort Wayne Police Department report.  

Stefanski’s 1987 Chevrolet Caprice was subsequently pulled over by a federal marshal who heard the child neglect call over a police radio. A cop who arrived at the scene reported smelling booze on the breath of Stefanski, whose blood alcohol content was subsequently measured at .17, twice the legal limit.

Asked by police why the children were strapped to the car’s hood, Stefanski replied, “I was only going to drive around the corner.” He added, “I thought they would like it.” Stefanski is pictured at left with his children in a photo from his Facebook page.

During questioning, Clark confirmed that Stefanski drove with the minors as hood ornaments, and acknowledged that “operating a motor vehicle with four young children strapped to the hood was not in the best interest of the children’s safety.” Clark, who appeared to be intoxicated, initially said that her seven-year-old daughter was not tied to the hood, but the child contradicted her mother's claim when questioned by officers. 

A search of the vehicle turned up the tow strap and a "pink backpack that appeared to belong to a juvenile." The backpack contained "two 24oz Magnum cold beers."

The affidavits do not disclose the relationship of Stefanski and Clark.

Stefanski's three children were turned over to their mother, who arrived at the arrest scene and identified herself to police. The woman told officers that she shares custody of the children with Stefanski, who had custody of the minors Monday. Clark's child was placed in the custody of a Department of Child Services worker who was summoned by police. (4 pages)