An Arizona couple has received jail time after they decided to put two kids in the trunk of their car while traveling 900 miles in order for their dogs to sit in the back seat.
Michael J. Fee, 63, of Peoria and Amber L. Freudenstein, 31, of Tempe admitted to driving around with kids in their trunk during the bulk of a 900-mile journey from Arizona to Casper, Wyoming. Law enforcement say that while the two children were riding unfastened, the dogs were given priority to ride in the car's primary cabin with Fee and Freudenstein.
A third party alerted a Natrona County sheriff’s deputy that the two adults drove the children, born in 2008 and 2012, in the trunk, and they had planned on turning back around and doing the same on the way home to Arizona.
When the investigator spoke to Freudenstein, she explained her motivation was to put the kids in the trunk so the dogs could ride in the back. At a stop in Utah, one of the children was reportedly allowed to get out of the trunk and rode in the floorboard of the front passenger seat, while the other child remained in the rear.
Fee said, according to the Casper Star Tribune, "We traveled up here and didn't have room for everybody in the car.” He added, “I tried to make things as safe as I could for them. It wasn’t anything malicious. We were just trying to get here to see her other children.”
He did express remorse in front of the judge, stating: "I'm just grateful that nothing happened. Nothing disastrous or anything." Apparently, someone explained to him that those travel arrangements aren’t ideal for a six- and 10-year-old.
If they weren’t stopped on the journey back, they would have made the trip with three children, according to police documents. Who these kids belonged to and where the third one came from wasn’t made clear in the report, and since they’re minors, some of the information is protected—it would seem by Fee's statements that they likely belonged to the other adult passenger.
They will spend 30 days in jail after pleading guilty in the Natrona County Circuit Court to two counts of misdemeanor child endangering.
Hopefully, the kids get to take the bus next time instead.