A father has been charged with homicide after his 12-year-old daughter killed a man, according to ABC News. According to the media outlet, Tomas Mejia Tol, 42, was arrested on Friday after his daughter was driving the family car in a parking lot outside their home. In a tragic turn of events, 47-year-old Enrique Vazquez was hit by the vehicle when out walking his three dogs. Vazquez passed away as a result of his injuries, as did one of his dogs. After hitting the pedestrian, the car crashed into a tree. When authorities arrived on the scene, Mejia said he was the one behind the wheel. It was later discovered that there was footage of the incident, clearly showing the child was in control of the vehicle.
The Harris County District Attorney's Office told reporters that the 12-year-old also told police that her father was letting her practice driving when the events unfolded. What may have seemed like an innocent excursion to Mejia turned out to have devastating consequences. He has been charged with criminally negligent homicide and endangering the welfare of a child. Not only did Mejia place his 12-year-old in a perilous position, but he also had his 2-year-old daughter in a car seat in the back of the vehicle at the time.
Teenagers can typically get a learner's permit at the age of 15 in the United States. Many schools offer driver's ed classes before students go on to gain their full license from the age of 16. Once in possession of a learner's permit, teens are allowed to drive as long as there is a license-holding adult to accompany them. It's not currently clear why Mejia believed it would be safe for his 12-year-old to take control of the vehicle, or if this was the first time such an event had occurred.
While the father certainly isn't the first parent to let their child sit behind the wheel, let's hope that these devastating consequences serve as an important reminder that age restrictions are put in place for a reason. Not only has the victim lost his life, but the 12-year-old will likely suffer psychologically moving forward.