WAVERLY TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A 4-year-old girl was in the back seat while her mother led police on a dangerous car chase through Van Buren County, deputies say.
Around midnight Tuesday, the woman was seen driving a silver SUV erratically through downtown Paw Paw, according to police. She drove in the wrong lane and ran through stop lights and stop signs, Sheriff Daniel Abbott said.
Police believe the woman was drunk.
Her daughter was in the back of the car without a car seat or a seatbelt, deputies said.
“Our judges and prosecutors, just like our office, takes things like this very seriously, especially when you’re dealing with somebody putting a child in danger,” Abbott said. “You’re endangering the public. We have a very good judicial system here in Van Buren County, and it will be dealt with appropriately.”
Police say the woman was driving up to 70 miles an hour. Deputies followed her for 5 miles before they unleashed stop spikes, deflating her two front tires.
The woman still drove for about half a mile before she finally pulled to the side of the road near the intersection of M-80 and M-83, Abbott said.
Dashcam video then shows the woman jumping out of the car and taking off, with a deputy running after her.
But as soon as her attempted escape started, it ended. The woman fell face first and hit her head on the asphalt.
Deputies then returned to the car to find the 4-year-old all alone.
“The deputies were shocked,” Abbott said. “They knew there was another person in there, but to see a 4-year-old back there with the mother fleeing police like that, it’s disturbing.
“We see it on a regular basis, unfortunately, with people driving intoxicated or under the influence of drugs with children in the car,” he continued.
Abbott said his deputies were “really good” with the 4-year-old and kept her calm.
“They made light of the situation to where the 4-year-old wasn’t uncomfortable,” he said.
The child is now in the care of another family member.
Police believe the woman was involved in another crash before the chase. Deputies found her driver’s side window shattered and the side mirror smashed.
The woman was later taken to Lakeview Hospital, where a search warrant was done for blood to determine her BAC. The woman tried kicking a deputy there and later fought with law enforcement at the jail, Abbott said.
She did not cooperate with police in their investigation, Abbott said.
The woman is facing six different counts in Van Buren County, including operating under the influence, open intoxication, child endangerment, assault on a police officer, resisting and obstructing and fleeing and eluding. The woman is believed to be from Michigan but had an out-of-state license plate. She also has several warrants for her arrest out of Indiana, Abbott said. One case is for theft and the other is a probation violation for retail fraud.
The woman is expected to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon and will be named then.