A Houston man is facing felony charges for allowing his 12-year-old daughter to drive, resulting in her running over and killing a man and his dog, ABC News reports.
On Thursday, Tomás Mejía Tol allegedly took his preteen daughter out for a driving lesson in a Houston neighborhood. While the girl was driving, Tol was allegedly minding his 2-year-old daughter, who was in the SUV with them.
The father allegedly chose a busy Houston apartment complex for the driving lesson, as the victim, Enrique Vázquez, was walking his three dogs that day.
Unfortunately, Vázquez and the SUV crossed paths that day, and it resulted in his death and that of one of his dogs.
As Houston’s KPRC-TV reports, Lieutenant Thurston Roberson, with the Houston Police Department, said that the girl confused the pedals, leading to the fatal accident. The man died at the scene, while the dog died a while later.
“Apparently, she pulled out and made a mistake and hit the gas instead of the brake and struck the gentleman that was walking his dog,” he said.
Tol was arrested and taken to jail. The following day, on Friday, he was charged with two felonies: criminal negligent homicide and endangering a child.
Tomás Mejía Tol was charged with criminal negligent homicide and endangering a child on Friday night for causing the man's death by allowing a “child to operate a motor vehicle with no driver’s license and no driving experience." https://t.co/F2tkS3G4gx
— Eyewitness News (@wbrewyou) August 18, 2019
It does not appear, as of this writing, that the preteen girl will face any criminal charges. She will, however, get counseling, says Sean Teare, chief of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. He called the girl a “victim” in this case as well.
“This is why you don’t teach a 12-year-old how to drive; much less in a crowded and populated area with a 2-year-old in the car,” Teare said, also noting that vehicles can be considered deadly weapons, and are responsible for as many deaths as firearms.
Further, Teare said that adults allowing young children to drive is a frequent occurrence in the community, and that letting a child drive in a populated area is even worse.
Meanwhile, Lynn Nguyen, with the Harris County District Attorneys Vehicular Crimes unit, says that 12 is not the age to begin driving lessons.
“It’s never OK to let a 12-year-old drive a car. Twelve years old is way too young even if a parent is in the seat,” she said.
State Farm Insurance doesn’t provide a hard-and-fast age at which it’s safe to start teenagers on driving lessons. The insurance company does, however, state that a teenager’s first driving lessons should be in a low-traffic area with a low speed limit.