SPENCER TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Following a crash that seriously injured two people, the parents of a 13-year-old face charges for letting him get behind the wheel and drive.
It’s not uncommon for a parent to teach their young children driving skills, usually in a parking lot or other wide-open space, where the dangers of crashing into anything are slim.
But that wasn’t the case on Feb. 12, when the 13-year-old drove out of the parking lot of a Spencer Township church on 16 Mile Road near Harvard Avenue, less than two miles from the family’s home. The teenager struck a SUV and caused it to roll over, according to court documents obtained by News 8.
Court records say the driver and passenger in the SUV sustained major injuries.
The 13-year-old’s mother told News 8 the father was with the 13-year-old when the crash occurred. Her son clipped the SUV when he pulled out of the parking lot, causing it to roll, she said.
Neither her son nor her husband were injured.
“You can’t allow a person who is unlicensed or a suspended license to operate a motor vehicle that you own,” Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker said.
The teenager’s parents face the charge of knowingly allowing a person to operate a motor vehicle who has never been licensed, causing serious impairment of functions. The charge is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison and/or a $1,000 fine.
“This is the first time we’ve actually filed charges, in my memory. So I think this maybe is a rather unique circumstance,” Becker said.
News 8 is not identifying the parents because they have not been arraigned on the charges. News 8 is also not naming the 13-year-old because he is a juvenile.
Becker wouldn’t discuss details for the same reason but did say the case is unique.
“I’m not trying to say — don’t get afraid that police are out looking for parents trying to give their kids a little practice or something along those lines. That’s not the case here. But that is a potential crime if an accident occurs and somebody is seriously injured, there are consequences,” Becker said.
The 13-year-old’s mother said she was not aware the charges had been filed.
Their next court date is April 5.