The Socially Abrasive

The Blog of the One and Only, Latch Beam

Young Driver vs. Grand Theft Auto

Posted by latchbeam on January 7, 2009

QUESTION: What kind of parents let their 6 year old kid play Grand Theft Auto?

ANSWER: Parents who have a 6 year old kid that drives their car to elementary school.

Its a good thing that there wasn’t a handgun in the glove compartment… he probably would have robbed a hooker on the way to school.

This kid might grow up to be a trouble-maker. 

Here is the AP story:


WICOMICO CHURCH, Va. – A 6-year-old Virginia boy who missed his bus tried to drive to school in his family’s sedan — and crashed. His parents were charged with child endangerment. State police said the boy suffered only minor injuries and authorities drove him to school after he was evaluated at a local hospital for a bump on his head. He arrived shortly after lunch, Sgt. Tom Cunningham said.

It happened around 7:40 a.m. Monday on Route 360, about 61 miles east of Richmond.

The boy, whose name wasn’t released, missed the bus, took the keys to his family’s 2005 Ford Taurus and drove nearly six miles toward school while his mother was asleep, police said.

He made at least two 90-degree turns, passed several cars and ran off the rural two-lane road several times before hitting an embankment and utility pole about a mile and a half from school.

The boy told police he learned to drive playing Grand Theft Auto and Monster Truck Jam video games.

“He was very intent on getting to school,” said Northumberland County Sheriff Chuck Wilkins. “When he got out of the car, he started walking to school. He did not want to miss breakfast and PE.”

His parents, Jacqulyn Deana Waltman, 26, and David Eugene Dodson, 40, are each charged with child endangerment, Wilkins said. Waltman is being held without bond. Dodson was released on a $5,000 bond.

It was not clear if they had attorneys.

The boy and his 4-year-old brother were placed in protective custody.

“This really is a story of miracles,” Wilkins said. “The Lord was with him, along with everybody else on the highway.”



One Response to “Young Driver vs. Grand Theft Auto”

  1. Here’s the follow up article. As you can see, the mother was held without bond due to some bad check charges against her:

    Parents of 6-year-old Va. Driver Arraigned

    posted: 6 DAYS 5 HOURS AGOcomments: 2PrintShareText SizeAAAHEATHSVILLE, Va.

    -An eastern Virginia couple arrested after their 6-year-old son crashed the family car while trying to drive himself to school appeared in court Friday on child-endangerment charges.

    A juvenile and domestic relations judge appointed attorneys for Jaqulyn Waltman and David Dodson, who have each been charged with one count of felony child endangerment and could face between one year and five years in prison.

    “Mr. Dodson is very thankful that his son is safe and that no one was injured that day,” said Dodson’s attorney, Jane Wrightson.

    The boy drove his parents’ Ford Taurus after missing the bus Monday morning, weaving in and out of traffic and crossing a bridge over the Great Wicomico River, police said. He made it about six miles, mostly down U.S. 360, and was spotted by several motorists before crashing into a utility pole not far from Northumberland Elementary School.

    The boy told sheriff’s deputies he figured out how to drive by playing video games and needed to get to school because he didn’t want to miss breakfast and gym class. Despite not wearing a seat belt, he wasn’t seriously injured, but the car was severely damaged, state police said.
    Waltman, 26, was returned to jail after her appearance. Waltman’s lawyer, James Cupp, declined comment. Dodson, 40, remains free on bond. He declined to comment after the hearing.

    “Ultimately this is not about a child driving a car,” Commonwealth’s Attorney R. Michael McKenney said in an interview after the hearing. “There are a number of problems that result in them not being able to properly parent and care for their children.”

    The boy and his 4-year-old brother were placed with a foster family after the incident and are attending school daily.

    McKenney said the decision to lock up the boys’ mother wasn’t made lightly, and came after several instances in which she failed to provide adequate care. Waltman suffers from mental health difficulties “that prevent her from parenting or working” or being allowed to be alone with her children, he said. Authorities said Waltman was sleeping when the boy took off for school in the car.

    “The risk of neglect and that the neglect could result in death of a child outweighs the immediate impact of the removal of a parent from the home,” McKenney said.

    Monday’s drive wasn’t the first time the boy took the family car from their home. A similar incident occurred last year in neighboring Lancaster County, McKenney said. The parents weren’t prosecuted but the county placed the boy in foster care in September, and a judge approved an order prohibiting his mother from being his sole custodian.

    After her arrest this week, Waltman was also ordered held without bond in nearby King and Queen County, where she faces bad-check charges, McKenney said.

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