Woman faces multiple charges after infant ejected from vehicle
WILLMAR -- Elaine Martha Velasquez, 22, of Willmar, made her first appearance Friday on six gross misdemeanor charges, including criminal vehicular operation, child endangerment and driving while impaired, for allegedly driving the car from which a 4-week-old infant was ejected Wednesday evening.
According to court documents, Velasquez registered a 0.10 blood-alcohol level after she was arrested. The baby, who was taken to Rice Memorial Hospital, suffered a scrape to the forehead.
Velasquez also faces misdemeanor charges of not having proof of insurance, reckless driving and driving after suspension, and a petty misdemeanor for a child restraint violation, in Kandiyohi County District Court.
Unconditional bail was set at $25,000. Conditional release was allowed on her personal recognizance on the conditions that she not drive and that she fully cooperate with Kandiyohi County Family Services officials. Her next appearance is May 18.
According to the complaint, a Willmar police officer was called around 8 p.m. Wednesday to Regency Estates West on a report that a vehicle went skidding out of the trailer park, causing a baby to fly out of the vehicle.
The reporting party told the officer she saw a vehicle with two occupants, a woman driving and a man in the passenger seat, having a verbal altercation. The vehicle drove at a high rate of speed toward a cul-de-sac area and made a wide left-hand turn, squealing the tires. As the car turned, the back passenger door opened and a car seat flew out of the vehicle. The woman reported hearing a baby crying from the car seat, and said that the vehicle occupants argued some more and then the man walked off and the woman took off in the vehicle.
Another person picked up the baby, got into a van and left the area, the witness said.
Another witness told officers that she saw the baby's head hit the cement roadway after the door opened and the car seat and child flew out. The witness also identified Velasquez as the driver of the vehicle.
While the officer was interviewing witnesses, Velasquez returned to the area. The officer immediately smelled alcohol on her breath and observed an empty baby car seat in the rear passenger side of the vehicle. The car seat was not buckled into the vehicle seat. When questioned, she immediately started crying, said she had messed up and she was sorry. She allegedly admitted to drinking and wanted to know how the baby was doing.
Officers later determined that the baby, identified as MV in the complaint, had been taken to Rice Memorial Hospital for treatment. The baby suffered a scrape to the forehead.
Velasquez failed a sobriety test and a preliminary breath test showed a 0.125 blood-alcohol concentration. A review of Velasquez' record shows her license was suspended and that she had a prior child restraint violation in August of last year.
Three additional witnesses were interviewed at the hospital, where they reported that the passenger and Velasquez were drinking and arguing at a home, that Velasquez grabbed the child and put the infant in the back seat of the vehicle while yelling at the man to get out of the car. They had observed Velasquez driving away to the cul-de-sac, the car door opening and the vehicle stopping, while another woman picked up the baby. They had observed a small scratch on the baby's head and brought the child to the hospital.
According to police reports, the child was held for observation and is now in the protective custody of family services.