By on May 23, 2012

What would you do? You’re taking your five year old son to feed ducks by the river and as you stop to choose a parking space, he hops out of the car and before you can do anything, your child runs towards the embankment, a 35 foot drop to the river. You’d do exactly what Frank Roder, of Winfield Park, NJ did. He jumped out of his 2006 Jeep Commander, ran to his boy and snatched him up, just a few feet from the ledge. As he was hugging his son, Aidan, the boy brought his father’s attention to the Jeep as it rolled into the Rahway River below.

Great story, no? Heroic father saves child. Here’s where it takes a turn into Alice’s looking glass. Union County police and a crane arrived on the scene. The Jeep was hauled out of the drink and surprisingly started right up, though Roder expects his insurance company to write the car off. While this was going on cop walked up to Roder and handed him two tickets, one for failure to produce proof of insurance, which was inside the soaked car, and one for not using his parking brake, $110 in fines all together.

“I couldn’t believe it,” Roder said. “He said, ‘If you would have taken the five seconds to apply the brake, this never would have happened!’

“I say, ‘Really? And if I did and my boy stepped over the edge and fell instead of the Jeep, then were would I be?’ He says, ‘Jail, for child endangerment.'”

Discuss amongst yourselves. My personal opinion here.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can dig deeper at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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72 Comments on “Father Ticketed for Saving Son...”

  • avatar

    The officer was a tool – a complete tool.

    • 0 avatar

      He got a $100 fine, it’s not like he was thrown in jail, or his son sent to DFACS. Things turned out OK, the father probably did the best he could, but someone other than his son could have been hurt. And there is chance that the father, exagerated the situation, or even lied to cover for his own mistake. The officer did not have to give him the tickets, but as far as the actions of the police go, this seems to be a very mild issue at worst.

    • 0 avatar

      These cop-bashing stories at TTAC are getting weaker and weaker.

      Here’s another version of events that is every bit as valid based on the facts presented: Negligent father allows 5-year-old to run through parking lot unattended, then blames child for SUV rolling into river. Sympathetic police overlook obvious child endangerment issue, issue minor ticket for failing to set parking brake.


      • 0 avatar

        Which is most likely how the police saw the issue.

        The failure to show insurance is easy to fix. show up to court etc and show proof of insurance. This is a mandatory ticket in NJ and uninsured motorists is a MAJOR ISSUE in NJ. If the officer didn’t give a ticket for that he’d probably be in trouble. The other ticket? Don’t know but it’s not a horrible one.

        On top of that he’s lucky the NJDEP didn’t get involved for polluting the river.

        While the cops attitude may seem deplorable I suspect that the officer just didn’t believe the father and from the interview of that child. I have my doubts that the child is going to just go jumping into the river

        Looks to me more like the father panicked and the officer saw it that way too.

        I’m certainly no police apologist, but I do think people in the USA these days overreact and overprotect their children.

        If you don’t think so, go see the TED talk about 5 dangerous things you should let your child do.

    • 0 avatar

      How can he let the child run off at the first place? child lock anyone? Seat belts? or a simple “NO!” would have sufficent.

      I bet it was “It seems like a good idea to let my kid run around first while I park the car” thoughts.

      I’m glad its not turning into something worse, ie.: the kid runs behind his dad’s car while he was backing up and getting squashed.

      • 0 avatar

        Haven’t read the entire circumstance but it looks like he stopped to choose a parking space. If he put the car in Park, a lot of cars nowadays automatically unlock the doors. Pretty sure my Dad’s Camry has this behavior. Not sure if child locks stops that? I imagine it would.

  • avatar

    Do the new Jeeps not come with child locks, then? When I was a wee lad the doors wouldn’t open from the inside if the child lock switch was engaged, which it was until I was old enough not to go running off of embankments.

    I mean, yes, the officer was undeniably a tool, but let’s not pretend there was no way out for the kid’s father here.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s easy to armchair quaterback events after they happen. The father had a split second to react and saved his son but trashed the Jeep. He might have had time to engage the parking brake, it takes less than 5 seconds, but I don’t think that was his priority.

      Hindsight is 20/20. I don’t think the police officer should hand out a ticket just because he could. More than likely a judge will throw it out, but this will still take up more tax dollars for a hearing and extra time for the father to clear it up versus just not bothering with a stupid citation in the first place.

      • 0 avatar

        Woah hey. I’m not saying the ticket was anything other than moronic. But the guy did endanger his son by getting him in this situation to begin with. He had a split second to react after the kid jumped out of the car, but the kid jumped out of the car in the first place because the father didn’t properly prepare. I mean, what if the kid jumped out of the car while it was moving down the road?

    • 0 avatar

      The kid is five. His parents had just taught him how to unbuckle his seat belt and open the door, an age appropriate thing to teach him. The father had stopped the truck briefly, trying to decide on a parking space, when the kid decided to get out of the car. No biggie until the kid made a beeline for the embankment. That’s when dad tried to throw the car into park but grabbed the turn signal stalk instead, and jumped out of the car.

      As for the kid opening the door while moving, it’s an ’06 car and most likely automatically locks the doors when moving.

      • 0 avatar

        “an age appropriate thing to teach him.”

        I think the fact that this situation happened appears to disagree with that assessment.

        By the way, if the car rolled over the embankment and, rather than rolling into an empty body of water, had instead hit and killed a fisherman standing in the river, would the father have any blame for that?

      • 0 avatar

        Ronnie, you are correct that those are age appropriate actions to teach a five year old. But that doesn’t mean you don’t take precautions. My 5 year old can open her door and get in and out of her car seat, but I keep child locks and window locks on at all times.

        Also, I don’t agree that it’s “no biggie” that he was out of the car before his dad and before the car was parked, particularly in a public parking area. My kids know to wait for mom or dad before getting out of the car at the grocery store, etc.

        All that said, I agree the cop sounds like a d-bag here.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        “… if the car rolled over the embankment and, rather than rolling into an empty body of water, had instead hit and killed a fisherman standing in the river, would the father have any blame for that?

        When you know what answer you want, it’s easy to create the questions.

        Your misspelled namesake classified that one thousands of years ago.

      • 0 avatar

        The point is that a fine of “less than half my last speeding ticket” for this incident is, while somewhat dickish and petty, not entirely unreasonable on the face of it.

      • 0 avatar

        “That’s when dad tried to throw the car into park but grabbed the turn signal stalk instead, and jumped out of the car.”

        That’s an odd error to make, since the Jeep Commander uses a floor/console shifter operated by the right hand, but the turn signal stalk is on the opposite side of the steering wheel and operated by the left hand.

        If it was column shift and he grabbed a right-side-mounted wiper control stalk instead that would be somewhat understandable, but “I grabbed for the floor with my right hand and accidentally activated the turn signal with my left hand instead” is pretty far-fetched.

        Looking at photos online, the only thing in the Commander interior near the gear shift lever that could possibly be mistaken for it is (get this) the emergency brake lever; which would also have prevented this problem.

        If his runaway Jeep had run somebody over, would he be at least partially at fault for that?

        Also, why did he think his 5 year old would just jump off a cliff?

        I wonder how much he owed on the Commander, and if he was current on the payments.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m with bikegoesbaa; the more I read about this story, the more it sounds fishy.

        Sorry, but as the parent of two pre-schoolers, I doubt that a five-year-old would run right off a cliff, unless, perhaps, he is a special-needs child. Even then, that is highly doubtful.

        And the last cars to have the transmission selector mechanism on the LEFT of the steering wheel were the old Mopars with push-button Torqueflight. Maybe his other car is a 1961 DeSoto?

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. The officer is an s$$hole, but the father is an absolute moron, and the kid…. well let’s just say there is a Darwin Award in his future.

  • avatar

    I have friends who are police officers and a lot of their colleagues, who do not socialize with anyone not on the force, just don’t get why the public is so against the police these days.

    A lot of it is because of incidents like the above which are starting to become so common I’m almost surprised when they make the news.

    There are tons of laws on the books and if the police enforced all of them you’d have clean and quiet streets. Mostly because the entire population would be in jail. Chances are good you unintentionally broke a law today, likely without any idea before or after that you had.

    The real disgusting part of this story is the poor choice on the part of the office. Back when I was in college studying for a career in law enforcement every professor said that an officer’s discretion, their ability to decide when and how to enforce the law, was their most important tool. Seems like most officers today think handing out citations for every possible infraction is more important then “protect and serve” that is in most of their mission statements.

    • 0 avatar

      “I have friends who are police officers and a lot of their colleagues, who do not socialize with anyone not on the force, just don’t get why the public is so against the police these days.”

      Having a sense of respect toward police officers in general does not preclude informed, constructive criticism of an individual officer’s actions. I happen to think the officer who ticketed Mr Roder should not have issued those tickets, but it doesn’t mean I’m “against the police”.

      • 0 avatar

        Wasn’t really calling out anyone in particular, just mentioning that in general public distrust of the police seems to be even higher than my own brief stint in law enforcement in the late 90’s.

        I noted then, and it’s every bit as true today, that police officers who only associate with other law enforcement personnel live in a sort of weird bubble. Most of the police officers I socialize with today were people I befriended who did not know I had a law enforcement background. In other words, they were open to talking to non-officers.

        It is very easy when you wear a uniform to develop a “us vs. them” mentality, which is a shame because it just adds to the distrust. Not that I’m defending it, but when you deal with the worst of humanity all the time as your job it’s easy to develop a very cynical outlook on human nature.

        All-in-all, the Dad may have made some mistakes, maybe even grievous errors, but no one was hurt or property was damaged other than his own. I would expect an officer to have some stern words about the situation and MAYBE issue a citation for the parking brake but the insurance ticket was a pure d*ck move.

    • 0 avatar

      I was hesitating to comment on this story because of all the unknown.But I really really like what you say in your last paragraph. I don’t have any idea what percentage of cops don’t use their best discretion, but those that don’t give the rest of the force a bad name. And that’s a big shame.

  • avatar

    I was going to say the same thing, why weren’t the read door child safety locks in use? How did the kid get out of his safety seat or booster seat faster than the father could put the car in park? Who goes to a river bank 35′ above the water to see ducks? Unless he was planning on carrying his son the entire time they were there the kid had a good chance of getting too close to the edge and falling into the river anyway.

    Did anyone else see this happen? Maybe the father made up the story so he wouldn’t have to explain how he never put the car in Park or set the parking brake and it rolled into the river.

    • 0 avatar

      Firstly, the child safety locks only really work when you have one child and no other passengers who don’t enjoy being locked inside. Once the kid is old enough to not open the door while the car is moving, the safety lock stays disabled.

      Secondly, even if the guy messed up and forgot to set the parking brake, is it really useful to give him a ticket? From my personal experience, the first thing the cops do when called in is to give you a ticket, it seems to be their #1 priority.

  • avatar

    I was just reading an article about a nurse that denied an asthmatic HS student his inhaler.

    The reason? He didn’t have a parent signature that he could use it.

    Never mind that there was a note from the past three years. Never mind that the inhaler was in his locker with details on the medication. Rules are rules.

    Sometimes people must look past the bureaucracy and be human.

  • avatar

    Too bad it wasn’t a wrangler. A day in the sun with the top down and it would’ve been like nothing happened.

  • avatar

    The guy’s lucky the kid didn’t get tazed or beaten. You just gotta love brain-dead people, and more so when they’re power-happy and armed.

  • avatar

    Lots of complications. I had young boys too, I would have chased him too, but hopefully my kid would have been in better control. Who know? would a 5 yr old really throw himself over a 35 ft bank?
    The ticket could be a way of formally documenting the incident. Who knows what really happened. Is the father going to sue the city for not having railings on the river bank?
    Lots missing in this story.

  • avatar

    Cops… nothing but arrogant pricks. Yesterday, a cop is tailgating me. His CVPI maybe five feet off my ass. I’m already doing about 10 over the the posted limit on a 2-lane highway and I can’t do anything about it. Another car is going the same speed in the next lane and there’s a car in front of me. As soon as a gap opens the cop blows past, showing off the “fact” that he can speed and I can’t.

  • avatar

    I love all the officer bashing by both the commentors, and author on his site.

    Did the cop have to come out to the scene? Yes.


    Because dad was an idiot

    Lets see all the things dad did wrong:

    1) Not teaching his son to not run out of the car
    2) Not have child locks on.
    3) Not pay attention enough to see his kid unbelting himself and running for the door.
    4) Not teaching his son to listen to dad to stop running.
    etc etc
    5) got of a powered car without properly securing it.

    Where dad got lucky:
    Stopped kid from falling in hole
    Car only went into water and did not hit anyone else.


    So this idiot of a dad ‘wasted’ an officers time, put his kids life, and that of others in danger. And you people are mad because the cop gave him a ticket?

    • 0 avatar

      I’m guessing you don’t have any kids.

      • 0 avatar

        Nice straw-man.

      • 0 avatar

        I have 2 kids aged 3 and 6, and Michael is spot on. This father is a complete idiot, and what he did placed the public in danger.

      • 0 avatar

        I have 3 sons, maybe they could have done the same thing, and I would have reacted the same way. But, assuming the story is completely true, the actions of the officer would not have been an issue at all to me. I would just be thanking God that my son was not hurt, and that I did not hurt anyone. That he would even bother talking to the press about the actions of the officer in this case seems more stupid than anything the officer did.

      • 0 avatar

        michal1980: Right back at ya, scarecrow. Anyway, I would likely have done the same thing if I thought my son was in a life-threatening situation. I’d rather someone else’s kids get run over than mine. Sorry, but it’s a fact.

        Also, going by the story alone, the cop sounds like a cock for the “failure to produce insurance” ticket.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. The truck could have easily plowed into some other people fishing near the shore. Also- the idiotic father just costed the city or county a good bunch of money because of his stupid stunt. I would say $110 is letting him off easy. Let’s hope he learns a lesson.

    • 0 avatar

      “So this idiot of a dad ‘wasted’ an officers time”

      I too am annoyed when somebody makes cops do their jobs. I’m sure the doughnut he couldn’t finish eating was so stale by the time he could return. Man, pretty soon we’re going to expect firemen to show up at fires. What is this world coming to.

    • 0 avatar

      Lemme guess: You’re a cop.

      Did the father make some mistakes? Sure, somebody could have gotten killed by his negligence, no matter how you look at it. Does that warrant a ticket? I don’t know, maybe, but the insurance and parking brake thing is ridiculous. Sounds like the cop’s attitude was “You made me come all the way out here, so you’re getting a ticket for whatever I can come up with.” It wouldn’t be the first time I saw that kind of dickishness from law enforcement.

      Oh, but the writers and the author are totally in the wrong for jumping to conclusions about the cop. We’re being ridiculous and disrespectful of the valuable service the police provide to the community. Our vast, mostly negative experiences with police officers are totally irrelevant. Right.

      Lots of cops have hard, dangerous jobs. Lots of them are professional, courteous and truly out there to help. Then again, lots of them are lazy, corrupt glorified revenue collectors on a massive ego trip. If my hunch is right, you’re one of the latter guys.

      It’s interesting, lots of people have complaints about cops, but the only people who complain about the complaints happen to be cops. Same holds true for union members and car salesmen, etc.

      • 0 avatar

        No, I’m not a cop. But again, people like you cannot justify your position with logic and reason, and so you must create strawman that you then attempt to burn down.

        I’m not a fan of people attacking someone for doing their job.

        At the end of the day, who made the mistake here the cop, or this dad?

        all the dad has is excuses, my kid did this, the car did that, bla bla bla.

        Are there reasons to dislike cops. Yes. Is this one of them? Hardly.

  • avatar

    You can’t justify abandoning a vehicle to save a child. The abandoned / out of control car could potently endanger the lives of more than one person.
    If the cops had explained their actions (they might have done this) in this context then they would not seem so callous, right?

  • avatar

    I have a 5 year old daughter and a 3 year old son. I agree that the ticket was gratuitous and the cop comes off as arrogant. I probably would have done the same as the father under the circumstances.

    What I can’t figure out is how this kid got out of a moving car. My daughter can get in and out of her car seat herself, but the child door locks and window locks are activated at all times. There is simply no way for either of my kids to exit my car without my assistance or knowledge.

    And, if the father knew his son was prone to this type of behavior, why is he not taking extra precation around a 35-foot ledge? In no way do I think this was anything other than an accident, and I feel for the guy (I know how unpredictable kids can be at times), but something seems off about this story.

  • avatar

    Agreed. A 5 year old is not like a 1 year old. He is not going to jump headlong down a 35ft drop off unless he has some kind of learning disability. And if he does have some kind of disability, the father should have known and should have taken better precaution.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    Due to the cuts in state money for the NJ towns, the local police are looking to balance the budgets buy writing tickets for anything they can. This is old news.
    Nothing personal, just the business of a cash strpped local government.

  • avatar

    Dad & kid are excited to go the water. Kid very excited. (and b/c very new baby at home, he may well have been particularly happy to have some Dad/son time)

    The Dad stopped the car, foot on the brake, looking around if that was the right place to park. (and Dad is probably very very tired)

    In a flash, kid is out of the car. Dad goes after the kid.

    Dad did the right thing — get out of the car fast…

    Kids do this kind of stuff — it does just happen. Dad made a mistake, kid made a bigger mistake.

    Fortunately the only loss is the car. Its moronic to give the guy a ticket — but $110 for the life of the kid? Pay it and be thankful.

    • 0 avatar

      This is it in a nutshell. You can really tell the responders that don’t have kids. 5 year old kids do dumb things, like run into the street chasing a ball, or in this case, run to the water, not knowing there’s a cliff there. Those that are saying, “a 5 year old wouldn’t really do that” or the kid would’ve stopped at the edge or whatever, are showing their ignorance and lack of experience with children.

      Dad obviously should have slapped it in Park, wouldn’t have taken 5 seconds, could’ve done it while jumping out of the truck, but the cop was a complete a-hole.

  • avatar

    You hate to slander public servants but NJ and Massachusetts have some of the most ill-mannered, bitter, and generally cruel state police officers that I have ever encountered. We’re talking zero leniency and 100% wallet gouging through all means possible. You almost wish you did actually commit a legitimate crime whenever you encounter these guys to make it worth the inevitable cost.

  • avatar
    George B

    It appears to me that the main reason for issuing the tickets is to collect revenue. I’d bring the stinky water soaked proof of insurance coverage from the Jeep to court and ask for that one to be thrown out. For the remaining parking brake fine, I’d pay it using a bucket of nickels, one coin at a time, so as to cost the government more in handling the coins than they are worth.

  • avatar

    I think you’ll always get a ticket if you drive (or in this case ghost ride) your car into a body of water. So that’s not really the point. I can think of a lot of examples of stupid police tricks, but this isn’t one of them other than maybe the ability to show proof of insurance.

    The bigger point is a child who doesn’t know to stay in the car until the e-brake is on or the engine off. And that’s before we look at how he got out of the seats inflicted on children these days.

  • avatar

    The ticket for failing to use the brake is fair. A rolling Jeep is dangerous, and it costs money for the city to recover it and (potentially) repair any damage it caused.

    A ticket for being unable to provide proof of insurance is absolutely ridiculous. The cop knew where it was, and knew it was inaccessible.

  • avatar

    Unless there is video, or independent witnesses, I am loath to believe the story of the father, and am rather more likely to believe that the father orchestrated these events in order to get rid of a vehcle he did not want, and to then pursue an insurance claim reimbursement.

  • avatar

    I’m sure there is a high correlation between those who support the government’s (cops and judge) response in this case, and those who want the government to tax our gasoline so it goes to $8/gallon.

    Just because the cops show up doesn’t mean a crime has been committed. It would have been much simpler to just let the poor guy file a police report and work things out with his insurance company.

    Government over-reaching is nice when you’re dictating it, but ugly when you’re on the receiving end.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    I have young kids and something about this story just doesn’t sit right with me. I think there’s more to it than we’re being told. Unless you were there don’t be too quick to judge the cops actions. Maybe the guy did what I’ve seen done many times in public parks and parked his Jeep where it didn’t belong to begin with.

  • avatar

    Sure, make excuses for the cop. He showed a lack of empathy at a minimum and a tendancy to be a power-hungry jack-booted thug at a maximum. It is OK for cops to show human emotions and display sympathy. (Assuming that they HAVE human emotions.) Some of the b & b act like sheep. And sheep get sheared at best, and slaughtered at worst.

  • avatar

    Speaking personally, provided the “facts” are exactly the way that the father is presenting them, I wouldn’t have written the ticket. That being said, there seem to be a few holes in the guy’s story and the bottom line is that the statute says what the statute says. You people need to figure out what you want. Fail to exercise discretion, follow the exact letter of the law, and write the guy a ticket for behavior that your democratically elected legislators have made a violation and we’re “cold- hearted and unempathetic.” Cut him or somebody else a break and we’re “playing favorites.” Damned if we do, damned if we don’t, depending on whether or not civilians “like” the perpetrator’s sob story.

  • avatar

    I’m late to chime in here, but I don’t think the issue at hand is with a parking brake. It’s a slushbox. He jumped out of it without putting it into park. That’s a major problem.

    Kudos to him for “saving” his kid, if that’s what happened. (Personally I think “saving” is a bit strong, since that implies the kid was definitely going over the embankment had he not been “saved.” Perhaps “protect” or “attend to” might be more appropriate.)

    Either way, he put other people and property in jeopardy by letting the Jeep drive away on its own. That’s gross negligence, it doesn’t matter what the reason. Had it hit someone or something, he’s 100% at fault and definitely gets ticketed.

    Seems to me the question isn’t “should he get ticketed” but rather, “was the ticket worth it?” in which case the answer is a resounding Yes.

  • avatar

    I agree that the story sounds fishy. A two year old won’t jump off a stair case, not to mention this is a five year old. If the child is retarded, he should have been secured by a leash or something to begin with.

    The fine is too small for the offence of putting other people in danger unnecessarily.

  • avatar

    “Failure to parent” caused the problem. Some sort of ticket is in order. Dear Old Dad got off easy.

  • avatar

    I saw this story the other night on TV,but didn’t see all of it so can’t say one way or the other, other than to say, if the story is indeed true, the ticket(s) were probably not warranted, and in that case, the cop is a douche bag.

    That said, I saw the cut where the seatbelt was “released” and I got the impression it was the FRONT seat, not the back, judging by how the seatbelt hung. On the front belts, they hang from the B pillar, in the back, they rest against the back seat, so in that instance, if true, the kid was UP FRONT. Secondly, Chrysler products of that period, and I know this from my Mom’s ’04 Dodge Stratus, and I assume it’s the same for the ’06 Grand Cherokee that the self locking doors, which activate at 5mph, can be turned off.

    In this case, we don’t know if he had the auto locks activated, or if the kid was ACTUALLY in the back where he should’ve been because the child safety locks are on the BACK DOORS only and if the kid was up front, then mea culpa on the father for that bit of stupidity. I know that at least in Washington State, a kid has to remain in at least a booster seat until he hits a certain weight/height.

    As to the locks themselves, I don’t know if they remain locked if you tried to open the door while at speed or not as I’ve not tried, but I DO know they don’t unlock once parked, but you CAN simply open the front doors at any rate without having to first unlock it.

    This feature isn’t new, Ford has had this same feature since at least 1978 with the Fairmont and other models of the period and this was at least on the front doors. My ’92 Ford Ranger did this as well as once you push down the lock button, it’s flush with the door (fronts only) and this is for the manual locks though and don’t know if the power locks work the same way.

    I know GM had their locks automatically engage once you put the transmission into drive, and unlock once back in park but the doors stayed locked otherwise.

    As to this father, I can’t say what’s the truth here but that is my assessment on how the kid might’ve gotten out of the car. The rest, can’t say for sure if true or not, but it seems that there may be a plausible truth to all of it to a fashion.

  • avatar

    Better headline: “Guy Tells Questionable Tale to Cops, Media; Gullible Blogger Swallows It Hook, Line and Sinker.”

  • avatar

    Kids that age want to show everyone how grown up they are. They don’t want to be in the car seat, they don’t want mommy and daddy unbuckling them, especially if they have a younger sibling who still rides in a car seat. They want to get out of the car themselves.

    The situation could have happened to anyone–regardless of what kind of precautions you could take. In our idiotic PC society where we call child endangerment every time a kid gets hurt this story is just proof positive that the cop acted like a scumbag. He’s either a total piece of crap and just wanted to fill a quota, or in his mind he felt he was ‘punishing’ the father for endangering his son–even if the most careful parents can’t keep kids from being human and foreseeing every eventuality. Kids, being human, have a creative way of trying to hurt themselves the second you take your eyes off of them.

  • avatar

    To people questioning why he went for the wrong lever – I would assume that he mostly drives another vehicle which has a column-mounted shifter and so therefore went for the similarly-located wiper stalk.

    If I’m giving him the benefit of my doubt, that is.

  • avatar
    Carlson Fan

    “Sure, make excuses for the cop. He showed a lack of empathy at a minimum and a tendancy to be a power-hungry jack-booted thug at a maximum.”

    You missed my point by a football field.

  • avatar

    It’s kinda funny, but what most of you seem to be griping about is that the cop didn’t use his discretion in the manner that you think he should have used it. No one is arguing that the law is unjust. The basic principle of “don’t leave your vehicle unattended without taking precautions to render it inoperable” is sound. You just “feel” that an exception should have been made in this case.

    Fine. As I said earlier, so long as the circumstances of the case are exactly as they are being portrayed by the father, I personally wouldn’t have wrote a ticket. Without the use of officer discretion the entire criminal justice system would grind to a halt. So under what circumstances should this guy have suffered the legal consequences of his carelessness? Consider the following alternative scenarios:

    1. Kid bails out. Dad bails out, leaving the Jeep with the engine running and in gear. Jeep rolls forward, but due to the incline of the parking lot and a higher than average curb, the Jeep stops once it hits the edge of the parking lot. No damage, injuries, or other harm. Should Dad have gotten a ticket?

    2. Same scenario, except Jeep hops the curb and continues on until it hits an unoccupied municipal park bench. No damage to the car, minor damage to the publicly owned bench. Should Dad get a ticket?

    3. Same scenario. This time the Jeep hits another parked car, causing minor damage to both vehicles, before coming to rest against the curb. It never leaves the confines of the parking lot. Should Dad get a ticket?

    4. Same scenario, except this time the park bench is occupied by a 24 year- old man in good health. He jumps off the bench before the Jeep hits and is uninjured. Should Dad get a ticket?

    5. Same scenario, except now the person on the bench is a 75 year- old woman. She manages to get off the bench before the Jeep hits, but she slips in the grass, falls, and breaks her hip. Should Dad get a ticket?

    6. Same scenario, same old lady. This time she gets off the bench, but her foot gets run over by the Jeep, breaking four of her toes. Should Dad get a ticket?

    7. Same scenario, same old lady, but she has a small dog. Old lady gets out of the way, but the Jeep hits and kills her toy poodle. Should Dad get a ticket?

    8. Same scenario, only this time there is no curb, no bench, and the Jeep heads on down the hill towards the water. Another man is already at the water’s edge with his five year- old daughter. The Jeep strikes her, drags her underneath, and continues on into the water, where she is pinned underneath it and drowns.

    9. Same scenario, only this time the son who bailed out of the car manages to run in front of it while Dad is in the process of bailing out. Dad’s unattended Jeep runs over and kills his own son. Should Dad be ticketed now?

    Dad’s action (or inaction, if you prefer) is the same in each case. He’s supposed to arrest his vehicle’s movement and prevent any additional movement before bailing out. It is completely within the officer’s discretion to decide at what point he should take enforcement action. I seriously doubt that anyone would have cited him under scenario 1 and probably not under scenario 2, even though there is damage to public property. I think the actual circumstances fall between scenario 2 and 3. I absolutely would have cited Dad under scenario 3 because I have an obligation to the citizen whose car was struck due to Dad’s carelessness. I would absolutely at a minimum cite Dad or (more likely) charge him for some other higher level criminal offense for any of the other scenarios, up to and including Reckless Homicide.

    The law does allow for people to violate it (choose the lesser evil) in order to prevent greater harm. The textbook example is the man lost in a blizzard who breaks into an unoccupied hunting cabin to seek shelter. But no matter what the situation, you can not completely disregard your obligations to your fellow citizens and potentially create greater harm than the harm you are trying to prevent. We can’t adopt a standard of “it’s okay to violate the law so long as nothing bad happened as a result.’ Imagine applying that standard to the running of red lights. Think about your own experiences either running a redlight or witnessing someone else run one. 99% of the time that some jackhole runs a red light in this country there is NOT a subsequent accident. Does that mean red light running should be acceptable?

    Finally, Dad’s not a hero. You don’t get to claim hero status because you are required to react to a dangerous situation that you created. If this guy’s a “hero,” then every idiot who ever set himself on fire by falling asleep while smoking in bed, yet who managed to wake up and extinguish the flames before he suffered third degree burns is a “hero.”

    Dad’s failure as a parent on multiple levels (failed to secure the child, failed to use childproof door locks, failed to instill enough self- discipline in his child to keep the child from bailing out of the car in the first place) created the crisis. The primary crisis was abated, but a secondary lesser crisis (Jeep in the lake) unfolded as a result of Dad’s incompetence at preventing the first crisis.

    And it was incompetence and/ or blind panic that led to Dad jumping out of the car without first slamming it into “park” or setting the emergency brake. The kid bailed, Dad freaked, and bailed out in blind panic after him. That’s not a characteristic that our grandfathers would have described as “heroic.’

    • 0 avatar

      THANK YOU.

      That guy’s kid is no more important to the public welfare than any other kid. I can’t guarantee how I’d react in his situation; maybe I’d make the same mistake Mr. Roder did. But that doesn’t excuse putting others in danger.

      It’s the same sort of BS mentality that enables people to drive SUVs for “safety” and sleep well at night knowing that a collision is much more likely to kill the “other guy” than it is to kill them, and that’s okay, because it’s some nameless, faceless person they’d never seen before that.

  • avatar

    Five year old kids never get overly excited and act impulsively. Yep. Sure. You betcha.

  • avatar

    Somebody has to pay for hauling cars out of rivers. Who else should it be than the guy who put it there in the first place. If saving his son was worth $110, what’s the worry? And if he reckoned it was not, I guess he could just let him drown next time.

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