The mothers of a 9-year-old girl and a 4-year-old boy from Little Ferry, N.J., who commandeered the family S.U.V. while home alone and struck four cars and a pedestrian, were charged today with endangering the welfare of a child.
The felony charges were filed by the Little Ferry police after Judge Brian Martinotti of Bergen County Family Court in Hackensack, acting on a motion by the State Division of Youth and Family Services, placed the children in foster homes while the agency investigates the case and the fitness of the mothers, according to their lawyers. The lawyers said their clients would cooperate with the agency and were confident that it would all turn out to be a “miscommunication,” said the New York Times.
Inez Cunningham, 37, the mother of the girl who was said to have been driving the vehicle, and her sister Rose Graham, 39, the mother of the boy, surrendered to the police today. Deborah K. Graham, 22, Ms. Graham’s daughter and the boy’s sister, who the police said was supposed to have been baby-sitting for the two cousins, was also charged with child endangerment.
On Tuesday about 10:30 a.m., the 9-year-old girl took the keys to a 2002 Mitsubishi Montero sport utility vehicle from the dining room table in her apartment near the border of Little Ferry and Hackensack, the police have said. The vehicle, which was leased, was at the house because the lease was up and the dealer was scheduled to pick it up, according to the police investigation.
With her 4-year-old cousin in the car, the girl backed the vehicle out of its parking space, hitting a fence, a witness told the police. She headed north on South River Street, a four-lane road, and drove about three-quarters of a mile to a shopping area in Hackensack, where she struck four parked vehicles and an 84-year-old pedestrian, who suffered minor injuries, the police said.