Car driven by child hit by train

May 27, 2011 at 6:02 PM
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CHILLICOTHE, Mo., May 27 (UPI) -- A Missouri man faces charges for letting a 10-year-old girl drive a car in which he and four children were riding when it was struck by a train, police say.

Livingston County Sheriff Steve Cox told United Press International Erin Graves, 31, of Chula, Mo., has been charged with five counts of child endangerment, a Class A misdemeanor, which if tried and convicted for the Tuesday incident could yield a one year jail term or $1,000 fine.

Cox said Graves allegedly let the girl drive. She accelerated when attempting to cross railroad tracks but was struck in the rear of the vehicle by an oncoming train, spun counter-clockwise before coming to rest, the (St. Joseph, Mo.) News-Press reported Thursday.

No one was injured, Cox said, and nothing was broken but the truth.

"Mr. Graves initially told me he was driving, was talking and listening to the kids in the car, and there was a comment made about 'Trying to outrun the train,' or 'Let's not outrun the train,'" Cox said. "[He said] his foot slipped off the brake and hit the gas."

Upon further investigation and questioning of witnesses, authorities confronted Graves, who retracted his statement and admitted he had left the driving to the 10-year-old while he sat in the front passenger seat, the News-Press said.

"I believe alcohol may have been a factor with Mr. Graves' decision-making ability," Cox said, declining to name the relationship between Graves and the children.

Cox told UPI Graves was released on $5,000 bond. His next court appearance is June 8.

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