FORT WAYNE – Strapping four kids to the hood of a car may have sounded like a fun idea to 29-year-old Aaron Stefanski when he did it earlier this year.
But it will end with four felony convictions after he pleaded guilty Monday in Allen Superior Court to charges related to the incident.
Stefanski, of the 200 block of East DeWald Street, was charged, along with Jessica A. Clark, of a different address in the same block of DeWald, after they were spotted driving a car with four children tied to the hood of a white sedan.
The manager of the Belmont Beverage, 2116 Fairfield Ave., called police after he saw Stefanski secure the children to the hood with yellow tow straps. A deputy U.S. marshal in the area heard the call over his police radio and saw the car, with the children strapped to the hood, headed south on Fairfield Avenue.
Responding officers smelled alcohol on Stefanski’s breath and saw his two sons, ages 4 and 5, his 6-year-old daughter and Clark’s 7-year-old daughter strapped to the hood, according to court documents.
Officers asked Stefanski why the children were strapped to the hood of a moving car. I was only going to drive around the corner, Stefanski replied, according to court documents. I thought they would like it.
The mother of Stefanski’s children showed up at the scene and the children were released to her custody, police said at the time.
A Breathalyzer revealed Stefanski’s blood-alcohol content was 0.17 percent, more than twice the legal limit, according to court documents.
On Monday, Stefanski pleaded guilty to three Class D felony counts of neglect of a dependent, as well as a Class D felony charge of operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.
Four misdemeanor charges of criminal recklessness, four child restraint infractions and an infraction for driving without insurance will be dismissed when he is sentenced.
According to the terms of his plea agreement, Stefanski’s sentence will be determined by Allen Superior Court Judge Wendy Davis, and the charges cannot be reduced to misdemeanors at sentencing if she accepts the plea agreement.
All the charges carry potential sentences of six months to three years in prison.
Stefanski will also have only supervised visitation with his children at Stop Child Abuse and Neglect, continue to pay his child support, and must successfully complete parenting classes, according to court documents.
As part of his probation, he must also submit to alcohol and psychological evaluations.
His driver’s license will be suspended for six months, according to court documents.
The case against Clark, 30, who is charged with Class D felony neglect of a dependent, is still pending, set for trial next month.
Stefanski will be sentenced Aug. 3, according to court documents.