St. Louis Woman Charged with Child Endangerment for Letting 8-Year-Old Drive Car with Toddler

A St. Louis mom is charged with child endangerment after allegedly instructing her 8-year-old son to drive with her unconscious in the backseat and her 3-year-old unrestrained. The incident raises serious safety concerns.

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Hadeel Hashem
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St. Louis Woman Charged with Child Endangerment  for Letting 8-Year-Old Drive Car with Toddler

St. Louis Woman Charged with Child Endangerment for Letting 8-Year-Old Drive Car with Toddler

A 28-year-old woman from St. Louis, Missouri, Latonya Mayes-Gale, has been charged with two counts of felony child endangerment after allegedly instructing her 8-year-old son to drive a vehicle with her 3-year-old toddler in the backseat while she was passed out. The incident occurred around 4 a.m. on Monday, April 15, 2024, in downtown St. Louis .

According to police reports, an officer spotted the vehicle heading west in an eastbound lane and discovered the 8-year-old child behind the wheel. The child told the officer that their mother could no longer drive and had instructed them to take over. Mayes-Gale was found unconscious in the backseat , and the 3-year-old was not secured in a car seat.

Mayes-Gale was arrested and booked into jail, with each count of child endangerment carrying a minimum sentence of one year in prison if successfully prosecuted. The St. Louis Circuit Attorney's Office charged her with two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, alleging that she placed both children in danger by having the 8-year-old drive the vehicle and allowing the toddler to ride unsecured in the backseat.

Why this matters: This incident highlights the serious risks associated with allowing young children to operate motor vehicles and the importance of ensuring the safety of all child passengers. It also raises concerns about the well-being of the children involved and the circumstances that led to the mother's alleged actions.

During a bond hearing, Mayes-Gale's attorney, Steven Kratky, argued that the underlying issues were more related to mental health and stress rather than substance abuse. He described the events as "exceedingly unusual" and stated that Mayes-Gale is a home health aide who cares for her two children and an elderly grandparent. The judge released Mayes-Gale pending trial, with a bond hearing scheduled for April 23, 2024.

The children were unharmed and are currently residing with their father. Neither the police nor the prosecutors indicated why Mayes-Gale was unconscious in the backseat at the time of the incident. The investigation is ongoing, and Mayes-Gale faces serious legal consequences if found guilty of the child endangerment charges.

Key Takeaways

  • 28-year-old Latonya Mayes-Gale charged with child endangerment
  • Allegedly instructed 8-year-old son to drive with 3-year-old toddler
  • Mayes-Gale found unconscious in backseat, toddler unsecured
  • Faces minimum 1-year sentence if convicted on 2 counts
  • Children unharmed, now with father; investigation ongoing