Local News

Raleigh Mother Charged After Toddler Puts Truck In Gear

Posted November 12, 2004 1:24 a.m. EST

— A Raleigh mother and her children had a scary experience outside their Raleigh apartment complex Friday morning after a 3-year-old was able to put their truck in gear.

The incident happened around 7:30 a.m. on Schaub Street off Western Boulevard.

Danielle Harris said she was outside her truck for just a moment when her 3-year-old son suddenly put it in gear.

"Basically, I was putting some stuff in a bookbag and my toddler son jumped up in the front seat and put the car in gear and it rolled," Harris said.

"The vehicle came down the street," said Lt. Charles Bryant of the Raleigh Police Department.

Inside the truck were Harris' 8-year-old daughter, 3-year-old son and 5-year-old nephew.

The two older children tried to jump out, but Harris' nephew got caught under a wheel.

"[He] fell down up under the vehicle and the tires ran over the back of his legs," Bryant said. "In this situation, we had a parent jump out. It happens a lot and this is what happened in a case like this."

All three children are in good condition. Harris was cited for seatbelt violations, failing to secure the vehicle and child neglect.

Harris was driving a Dodge mid-size pickup. Several Chrysler and Dodge vehicles, including pickups, are the focus of a class-action lawsuit, because they can easily be pulled into gear.

The lawsuit faults Daimler-Chrysler for failing to install a system that requires stepping on the brake to pull the automatic transmission.

North Carolina is one of nine states named in the suit. The vehicles in question were made between 1991 and 2000.