The grandparents of a 7-year-old girl gave her a car ride Sunday, but sheriff’s deputies say there were two major problems: they towed the girl in a plastic car behind their SUV, and the driver of the vehicle was drunk while they towed her.
Paul J. Berloni, 49, of the 3300 block of Clark Road East in Sarasota, is charged with driving under the influence, child endangerment and driving with a suspended license. Sheriff’s deputies say he has been convicted three times prior for DUI.
Belinda Jean Berloni, 47, of the same address, faces a child endangerment charge. Deputies say the granddaughter was not injured.
At about 4:30 p.m. Sunday, a deputy eastbound on Clark Road reportedly saw the SUV on a parallel access road near Rockefeller Avenue. The SUV was pulling a plastic Hot Wheels car with a girl dressed in a swimsuit but wearing no protective gear such as a helmet. The toy car was tied to a trailer hitch with two dog leashes. The deputy estimated the SUV’s speed at 5 to 10 mph.
Belinda Berloni was riding in the SUV’s cargo area with the hatch open and was cheering on the child, an arrest report states. When stopped, Paul Berloni admitted that his driver’s license was revoked and that he had been drinking alcohol, reports said.
Belinda Berloni “was also intoxicated” and admitted “that she understood that it was dangerous to drag a child behind the vehicle but stated they were just having fun and had been doing this all day,” an arrest report stated.
The girl’s father, Belinda Berloni’s son, arrived at the scene and took custody of his daughter after becoming verbally upset with his mother, the deputy reported.
The defendants “failed to provide adequate supervision for the child and put the child in a situation that could have easily resulted in great bodily harm, permanent disfigurement or even death,” the arrest report states. Paul Berloni refused to take a blood-alcohol test, reports said.
LAWDY, HAVE MERCY…THAT ASPHALT WOULD’VE EATEN HER LITTLE BODY UP! THE SHERIFF OFFICER SHOULD’VE TAKEN THE GRANDPARENTS INTO JAIL ON THAT SAME BIKE BEFORE HIS CAR! DRUNK DUMMIES!!!