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Milwaukee Sheriff: Two arrested after suspected drunk driving crash with 8 children in vehicle

Passenger reportedly yanked the wheel
Posted at 3:22 PM, Jan 10, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-10 23:13:53-05

Two people were arrested in an alleged drunk driving crash after a minivan with eight children inside collided into a wall on I-43 early Wednesday morning. 

According to a release from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, the van was going southbound on I-43 at around 1:40 a.m. and crashed near Fond du Lac Avenue. Several of the children, ranging in ages from 1 to 12-years-old, were treated for minor injuries.

The sheriff's office said a witness heard the driver yell at a passenger, asking him why he would yank the wheel. 

"This couple, according to witnesses, is flying down the expressway. A 50 mph zone doing somewhere around 75 estimated by this witness. All of a sudden they see the car swerve off to the side, smash into the wall," said Acting Milwaukee County Sheriff Richard Schmidt.

One child told deputies, “everybody was screaming for them to stop. When we got on the freeway he kept grabbing at the steering wheel. He grabbed it again and we crashed and then I blacked out.”

"The children themselves fully stated we were yelling at them, 'Stop, stop. Stop fighting. Stop doing this.' Next thing they saw the male grabbed the wheel and bam into the wall," Schmidt said. 

Schmidt said when deputies arrived the couple was still arguing.

"Screaming, upset and totally in chaos based on what is taking place," Schmidt said.

The driver blew a .088 on a breathalyzer test, and was arrested for OWI-1st with a child under 16, disorderly conduct, and seven counts of child neglect, and could face six years in prison if convicted.

Deputies spoke to the children, who said the passenger had been drinking in the car and arguing with the driver. The passenger was arrested for second degree recklessly endangering safety and seven counts of child neglect. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Only one child had a seatbelt on. 

“It is unconscionable that two adults would drink to excess and take eight children in a vehicle with them. Their careless disregard for the safety of these children or anyone else on the road is appalling, and we will review this matter carefully and issue the most serious charges possible,” Acting Sheriff Richard Schmidt said in the news release.