4-Year-Old Leaps From Moving Car After It Was Repo'd With Him In It

We checked but couldn’t find a clause in the Fair Debt Collection Practices act that dealt with the legal implications of repossessing a SUV with a 4-year-old child inside of it, but we’re fairly sure it’s not really allowed.

Select Recovery of Aurora, IL repossessed a Ford Excursion on Thursday, but they didn’t notice 4-year-old Fashawn Parker sitting in the back seat.

“Apparently they had given the vehicle a cursory check,” Dan Ferrelli, an Aurora Police spokesperson, told WBBM. “They looked through the front windows. They didn’t find anything in there and were unaware that the boy was in the back.”

The driver of the car was inside the house picking up another child when the vehicle was repossessed. “He had said that a vehicle he was driving that belonged to one of his relatives was being towed away and that there was a four-year-old boy inside of it,” said Ferrelli.

Luckily, the kid is some sort of crazy action star. When the car slowed down to pass through a construction zone, little Fashawn unlocked the door and jumped out of the moving car.

WBBM says no charges against the Select Recovery are expected. The 4-year-old was treated at the hospital for a few cuts and bruises and released.

According to the FTC’s consumer information about vehicle repossession, some states would consider stealing someone’s 4-year-old, even inadvertantly, a “breach of the peace,” and, if so, the vehicle’s owner may be entitled to compensation.


Boy Jumps From SUV Being Towed
[WBBM via Jalopnik]
(Photo:WBBM)

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  1. kc2idf says:

    According to the FTC’s consumer information about vehicle repossession, some states would consider stealing someone’s 4-year-old, even inadvertantly, a “breach of the peace,” and, if so, the vehicle’s owner may be entitled to compensation.

    How much compensation, I wonder? Would it cover the outstanding balance on the SUV?

    Then again, who the hell buys an SUV with gasoline at $3/gallon? I think if I had made that mistake, I’d be trying to have it repo’ed.

  2. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    How is it not kidnapping?

  3. beyond says:

    Glad the kid wasn’t hurt. Yes there are consumer protections against repo men doing bad things but it doesn’t work like that in the real world. People who are getting their cars towed off are dealing with sleazy companies and/or don’t pay their bills, live below the poverty level and can’t understand the terms of their financing let alone what their rights as consumers are. They’d probably look at you like you had 3 heads if you offered them a copy of the “Fair Debt Collections Act”.

    Realize that the laws only protect those with the ability to use them for their own protection. The typical person getting their car towed is powerless. The only reason this made the news was because a child was involved who went to the hospital, thus involving the authorities. If the kid wasn’t hurt, the family wouldn’t have been able to do anything.

  4. nelsonj1998 says:

    How were no charges filed? Is that not kidnapping? Or when a repo man tows the wrong car.. how is that not theft?

  5. raybury says:

    I was ready to blame the victim for leaving a young child alone in a car, but I much prefer to blame the car’s not-quite-owner for not making payments on an expensive vehicle and then just loaning it out throughout the family.

    And “Fashawn”? Were “Dashawn” and “Kashawn” and “Lashawn” and “Rashawn” and “Shawn” already taken? Black folks, you gotta name your kids better or we’re not gonna take you seriously.

  6. rmz says:

    @kc2idf: I was about to say that it’s someone that has a well-paying job such that they don’t need to worry about the difference between $20/week and $50/week, for gas, but given that they’re getting their shiz repo’d, I’m guessing that they just like stuff they can’t afford.

  7. spevman says:

    I suspect its not kidnapping (or in the case of towing the wrong car) theft because its not on purpose. Its a mistake and those happen from time to time. This story, while an attention grabbing headline, isn’t really that big a deal.

  8. @kc2idf: Half of America?

  9. DeeJayQueue says:

    @raybury: Right, like Dweezil, Moon Unit and Ahmet are perfectly acceptable names because they’re white.

    I’m pretty sure it’s not kidnapping because they didn’t know a kid was in the car. If they carjacked the lady and saw a kid and kept going it would be one thing. They didn’t intentionally take the car because of the kid, he had nothing to do with the reposession of the car, he just happened to be in it.

    What kind of compensation can the mother reasonably expect? It certainly won’t have anything to do with her car, they’re keeping that. They’ll probably fork over for the hospital visit, and that’s that.

  10. Buran says:

    NO CHARGES … for TAKING A CAR WITH A CHILD IN IT!?!

  11. Buran says:

    @spevman: See how far that gets you if you walk out of a store and then claim you didn’t mean to actually steal that extra stuff in your bag.

  12. Buran says:

    @DeeJayQueue: I suspect punitive damages, hefty ones, for negligently putting a life at risk.

  13. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    @raybury: Because if his name was Brad you’d start to care?

  14. retailwhore says:

    @Buran: The situation would only be analogous if you picked up a bag that already had stuff in it when you started to put your things in it, and THEN claimed that you didn’t know the extra stuff when you got stopped. You’d be right to claim that it’s not your fault that the bag you were directed to take already had stuff in it.

  15. Kwummy says:

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say that family enjoys living above their means.

  16. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @raybury: I’m sure black people are heartbroken to know you don’t take them seriously.

  17. Razzler says:

    @DeeJayQueue:

    No, they’re perfectly acceptable names because they come from Frank Zappa. Anything else would be disappointing.

    While I’m only half-black and therefore can’t speak for “black people”, you really can’t deny that “Fashawn” is a pretty stupid name, and uncreative to boot. If you’re going to give a kid a weird name, at least put some effort into it, like Mr. Zappa did.

  18. killavanilla says:

    Maybe they were repoing the kid and not the suv?
    Perhaps the SUV was the mistake.

  19. killavanilla says:

    Pay your bills or buy something you can afford.
    No one likes to repo.
    And the one thing no one seems to be noticing is that they were able to repo a car while the kid was still inside.
    Anyone ever seen a repo? It takes more time than a few seconds.
    Assuming they didn’t tow it away, they had to get into the car first, then start it, then drive it away. last time I checked, it wasn’t safe to leave a 4 year old in the car, even for a few minutes, alone.
    Yeah, it sucks. Yeah, the kid could have been hurt. But what was a four year old kid doing in a car unsupervised?

  20. Buran says:

    @retailwhore: And you’d still be guilty of walking out without things you paid for, and that’s a crime. You still, after all, get punished for negligent homicide. You can’t claim “it was an accident” because you are expected to act with due diligence and make sure that you don’t act so recklessly as to harm others.

  21. Buran says:

    @killavanilla: People leave stuff in their car and dash into the house for just a moment all the time. Besides, if you read the report, the parent had gone inside to fetch another kid and put them in the car also. There is no mention here that the car was running or that the kid was abandoned.

    Also, I’ve seen videos of repo men dragging cars away in under 30 seconds without looking inside.

  22. Phuturephunk says:

    @killavanilla:

    If the car is a front wheeler, which I think this model is, they can get it moving if the front wheels are lifted off the ground by virtue of the back wheels not being connected to anything except the parking brake.

    But whatever..

    I’m impressed there’s only like a 35 percent ‘blame/comment nastily on the victim’ angle on this thread.

  23. not_seth_brundle says:

    @Buran: You really should spend a few minutes googling “mens rea” before you start telling people they’re wrong about the law. And yes, there are exceptions; google “felony murder” if you want to read about an example.

  24. killavanilla says:

    @Buran:
    You made my point. People leave ‘stuff’ in their car and dash in for a moment.
    A 4 year old is not ‘stuff’.

  25. killavanilla says:

    @Phuturephunk:
    Yeah. A tow truck was used. Guess what? It takes more than 30 seconds to properly hook up a car to a tow truck. Ever called for a tow truck? Once they get there, they tend to take a minimum of 2-3 minutes. That’s not ‘popping in’ and it is an unreasonable amount of time to leave a 4 year old alone in a car that isn’t running.
    I don’t “blame the victim”, I simply am refusing to give the ‘victim’ a pass. The ‘victim’ left her four year old alone in a car. How long is acceptable? A minute? 10? 30?
    I left my dog in my car with the windows cracked on a 70 degree day to run into my local CVS for a coke. When I got out two minutes later, I had someone in my face telling me that they should call the cops on me for abuse. That was my DOG!
    This was a kid. A real live human.
    So please, tell me. How long is it okay to leave a 4 year old alone in a car?
    If she left the kid alone for a few minutes at an amusement park to ‘run in’ for something, and the kid disappeared, would you be blaming the amusement park?
    Of course not.
    But since someone’s car got repo’d, the communists at the consumerist jump to defend the person who showed a lack of reponsibility in paying their debts AND a lack of parental responsibility.
    On Friday, in Aurora, the weather was in the high 70’s to low 80’s. It doesn’t take long for enough heat to build up sufficient enough to give the kid heat stroke.

  26. LionelEHutz says:

    Hmmm, I bet that the family won’t have trouble making car payments after this fiasco. Mr. Repo Man, met Mr. Lawsuit.

  27. forever_knight says:

    @Phuturephunk: who the hell is the victim here? there are plenty to go around:

    kid: scarily taken for a ride; also left locked in vehicle for who knows how long
    parents: child stolen; SUV taken
    bank: not paid for vehicle loan
    consumerist readers: have to decide how to feel about ambiguous situation

  28. killavanilla says:

    @LionelEHutz:
    Lionel Hutz – you live up to your name.
    If there is a lawsuit, it will likely be tossed out of court.

  29. MCWarEagle says:

    I do not think the Repo man can be charged with kidnapping. Kidnapping in most states require the specific intent to do so. Further, I do not believe there is such a thing called negligent kidnapping.

    The repo man and company, however, can be charged with breaching the peace while repo’ing the ladies car. The Uniform Commercial Code, which has been adopted by all the states, require, while repo’ing collateral or an asset like the car, not to breach the peace. The case law is unclear what exactly constitutes breaching the peace, but I believe most courts would hold that taking a car with someone in it would certainly be breaching the peace.

    There are several remedies for breaching the peace while gaining control of collateral like actual damages, 10% of the cost of the collateral, punative damages, and the repo company may have to give the car back.

  30. ludwigk says:

    @DeeJayQueue: Nope, Crazy celebrity baby names are totally atrocious. Pilot Inspektor? Princess Tiamii? Audio Science, Fifi Trixibell? I wish I were making them up. It’s not a fucking poodle, its a kid who’s going to hate their name until they can legally change it.

    Semi-related, I once met a woman with a particularly unique name, (which i totally can’t remember now), but when I asked her what kind of name it was, she laughed and said “My mom made it up… I’m black”, which of course was obvious from the start.

  31. enm4r says:

    That is a seriously awesome move on the kids part. I jumped out of a golf cart going about 20mph when I was 8, and I broke some teeth and was all beat up. This kid was 4, and is apparently fine. Good show young man, good show.

  32. SOhp101 says:

    I used to work with (with, not for) repo companies–they are not allowed to take a vehicle with a person inside otherwise it can be considered kidnapping.

    They go through some crazy lengths to repo your vehicle so if you actually use it, sooner or later they’ll get it. If they can’t get the vehicle at your house, they’ll get someone to tail you while you go shop for groceries or go to an appointment somewhere and take your car while you’re inside the store. They’re not allowed to go on private property without permission of the landowner except for places where the private land is ‘public’ such as mall parking lots, etc.

    By the way, if you really can’t afford your car payments, sell your car before they threaten to repo it. Repo’d cars usually get less than wholesale value and repo charges usually end up anywhere between $500-2000+ in addition to the remainder of the loan you owe. At least if you sell your car you’ll be able to get more money without any fees and the remainder balance will be much more bearable.

  33. raybury says:

    The scenario at the scene made enough sense — the kid was left in the car in the driveway of a private home while the driver went in to pick up another kid inside that home, a maybe got into a conversation with his relatives there. Not a predictably long absence, e.g. like going to work or even grocery shopping, and the temperature in the area has not been extreme lately. So, one demerit for not keeping the kid in sight at all times, but that is a hard standard and besides he’s 4, not 2.

  34. wring says:

    ex’s repo man was nice enough to take out the carseat before he took the car away. seems like an honest mistake tho. and Fashawn, what a name.

  35. killavanilla says:

    @wring:
    FoSho it is

  36. GearheadGeek says:

    @SOhp101: While your very practical advice sounds good on the face of it, I’m guessing that lots of people getting their vehicles repossessed are upside down anyway. It seems that most Americans with a note on their car are upside down for much of the time they have the car… in fact people who are addicted to car swapping probably stay upside down forever, since they never catch up before they succumb to some dealer’s “we’ll pay off your trade!” promo. That’s why “gap insurance” is a popular product (and yet another thing never ever to buy from the stealership.) So, these people who are behind on their payments probably wouldn’t have the cash around to pay the gap if they’re also upside down on the note.

  37. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    @killavanilla: I’m not a lowlife nor did I deal with a sleazy car company (unless you’d call Ford Motor Credit sleazy…and some would) but I had a car repo-ed once. I was young, dumb, and financially irresponsible then… not perfect like some here in these forums!

    Trust me, those repo men work a lot faster than the AAA guy. They have to… they are trying to catch you when you least expect it. I have no doubt the driver was only in the house for 60-90 seconds before the car was being dragged down the street.

  38. SOhp101 says:

    @GearheadGeek: You’re absolutely right; most people who get their car repo’d are upside down. HOWEVER, it makes no sense to let them take your car, sell it for a fraction of the selling price you could have obtained (even if you sold it to a dealership), and then on top of that add on a bunch of extra charges. Sure the average customer who gets his car repo’d might not be able to pay the gap but it’s a lot easier to deal with, say, $5000 being garnished from your wages instead of $10,000.

    You bring up another good point–chances are if you require gap insurance, you’re buying a car that’s too expensive.

  39. TechnoDestructo says:

    @kc2idf:
    Not just any SUV….the BIGGEST SUV.

  40. TechnoDestructo says:

    @SOhp101:
    “sell it for a fraction of the selling price you could have obtained”

    Good luck selling that car without a clear title.

  41. dh86sj says:

    It seems as though some folks here don’t quite understand how fast a repo has to go down. If you are repoing a car from a home or residential environment, its a pretty logical conclusion to assume that the possessor of the vehicle is inside. You don’t know what’s inside the house – it could be guns, knives – even drain cleaner can become a weapon. Your sole objective is to get in and get out as soon as possible to minimize the chances of your own personal injury. I was executing in a repo when the possessor of the car pulled a knife from the vehicle as I was attempting to recover it. Scary stuff.

    What happened to the child is unfortunate, but no one forced him to jump. If he had stayed in the car, he would have been discovered upon arrival at the repo lot. The story wouldn’t have made it out of Illinois. Whoever parked the car should be facing child endangerment charges, not only for leaving the child in the car on what I assume was a hot day, but also for knowingly leaving the child in a car that had a virtual certainty of being reposessed.

  42. SOhp101 says:

    @TechnoDestructo: Just because you don’t have the title doesn’t mean you can’t sell the car. It takes longer, yes, but it’s still possible.

  43. SOhp101 says:

    I should add that if the title is under the financing company’s name then chances are they will only let you sell the car if the buyer makes the check payable to the financing company. You of course will have to come up with the negative balance should there be one. YMMV. Call your financing company for details.

  44. TechnoDestructo says:

    @SOhp101:

    To a dealer with the resources and expertise to handle that, sure. To a private buyer? Well, you can sell a salvage title car, too, but the fact that many people would never consider buying it greatly reduces your market, which greatly reduces the price you can ask.

    And not having a clear title is a lot more hassle than a salvage title.

  45. SOhp101 says:

    @TechnoDestructo: Who said anything about selling the vehicle with a salvage title? You can still sell the vehicle but you have to go through a few more steps to do it. The financing company is the legal owner but if you let them know that you’re having difficulty making payments and you ask what steps you would need to take to sell the vehicle and avoid repossession, they will be more than willing to assist you.

    Believe it or not financing companies hate it when they have to repossess a vehicle. It means a lot of lost interest and huge expenses on the quarterly report.

  46. Ryuuie says:

    Is it just me or is anyone else completely surprised he JUMPED OUT OF THE CAR while it was moving? He deserves an award for not even breaking anything.

    And…yea, charges should be filed. It’s not really kidnapping, but I’d say it’d be common sense to check EVERYWHERE…which they did not.

    Oh, and the name “Fashawn”…yea just…no.

  47. TechnoDestructo says:

    @SOhp101:

    Unless the finance company is going to help you in such a way that I hand you a check and you hand me a title which I take to the DMV and get my title issued without any additional steps or waiting on my part, that car is worth less because it is not paid off.

    Considering how often I’ve come across sellers who don’t have the title when I was car shopping, I have my doubts as to how willing they are to be helpful in this.


    Also, I used salvage titles as an example of something else that increases the difficulty of selling a car and decreases the value. I think that was pretty obvious.

  48. killavanilla says:

    @ceejeemcbeegee:
    I never called anyone a lowlife, nor did I imply anyone used an unreputable company.
    We all make mistakes.
    You have “no doubt” they were only in the house for 60-90 seconds? Based on what exactly? I went to the linked story and it didn’t make any such claims.
    the fact is, we don’t know if they went inside for 60 seconds or 60 minutes.
    Careful with the assumptions….
    They can sink you.

  49. killavanilla says:

    @killavanilla:
    And this was a massive SUV, not some honda civic, ford focus sized car.
    Getting on a truck does take some more time when you are dealing with a 5000 pound SUV….

  50. AlexG32 says:

    The parents don’t deserve to have kids. First, they don’t pay for their expensive SUV. Then, they leave their child in said SUV even though he is only 4. The repo guys shouldn’t expect that there is a kid in the car when it’s parked in a driveway. The parents are lucky the kid didn’t actually get kidnapped. If the repo guys can take the kid, so can a criminal.

  51. Sian says:

    Fashawn? hopefully the poor kid will have enough sense to change his name when he moves out, though smarts and responsibility don’t seem to be strongly represented in his family. He seems to be athletically gifted though.

  52. joeblevins says:

    Dirtbag leaves chil’n in car they can’t afford, and don’t own because they haven’t been paying thier bills. They can’t take care of thier chil’n and they can’t take care of thier bills. Hell, the repo-men are probably better parents.

  53. Floobtronics says:

    The irony here? A gazillion $$ suit will be filed against the repo company, resulting ultimately in a settlement that will enable the unfortunately named boy’s parents to purchase a new car outright with cash.

    Of course, there will be a Johnny Cochrane-esque lawyer involved who will needless to say, try the case in the media first.

    Are the parents due some compensation? Without question. Will there be an utter circus? You bet.

  54. killavanilla says:

    @Ryuuie:
    Here’s a crazy idea – what kind of parenting is going on when a kid thinks it is okay to jump out of a moving vehicle?

  55. SOhp101 says:

    @TechnoDestructo: You’ll have to bend over backwards to sell a car if you don’t have a title, but it’ll be worth it in the end.

    I made it sound easier than it actually is, sorry about that. But a repo on your credit report sucks. Avoid it at all costs, kinda like how you would with a bankruptcy. But at least with a bankruptcy you are free from all responsibilities of the loan (well maybe not anymore with the new bankruptcy laws). Repossession alone means you still owe the bank the money.

  56. killavanilla says:

    @Floobtronics:
    Not a chance.
    No attorney would take such a case as it has all sorts of holes in it.
    The parents aren’t due any compensation, as the repo company will claim that they looked in the vehicle and didn’t see a kid. 4 year olds are supposed to sit in car seats. Clearly, they didn’t see him in one.
    Plus, you aren’t supposed to leave your kid unattended in a car. period.
    I’d bet my screenname that the best that will happen is that the repo company will cover hospital costs, if anything. The parents aren’t due squat. The more I think about it, the more I blame them.
    1) never leave your kid unattended in a car, not even for a few minutes. it’s not a crib. There are cigarette lighters that can kill them, numerous choking hazards, and plenty of bad stuff that can happen.
    2) 4 year olds are supposed to be in car seats. Why wasn’t this kid in one?
    3) Kids are supposed to be taught not to jump out of moving vehicles or open car doors when the car is moving.
    4) Don’t leave your kid in a car when you have defaulted on the loan for the car.
    Had the kid not jumped, they would have found him and gotten him back to the parents quickly.
    Had they not left the kid in a car slated for repo, this never would have happened.
    Had they kept him in a car seat, this never would have happened.

  57. badhatharry says:

    For all we know, the family may have also been behind on their kid payments and the repo man was just being efficient.

  58. K-Bo says:

    Just to clear something up for those of you who are tearing into this kids parents for leaving their kid in a SUV they knew would be repo’d : nowhere does it say the driver was the childs parent. It also says that the drive claimed not to be the owner, they were just borrowing it from a friend. As far as we can tell, the parents might not have been involved at all, other than to trust their child with a less than trustworthy friend or family member.

  59. FightOnTrojans says:

    @ BADHATHARRY

    I was thinking the same thing. I bet it the repo men were employed by the hospital to repossess the kid after the family fell behind on the payments.

    Sorry, I just finished reading hospital billing the homeless guy story prior to reading this story and couldn’t help myself.

    But seriously, you don’t leave your kid behind in the car, no matter what. This case illustrates exactly why. You never know what can happen. When I was 4 yrs old, I got into a car that my dad and cousin had jacked up to work on. I released the parking brake and nearly crushed my cousin when the car rolled off the jack. Whoops…

  60. WhatsMyNameAgain says:

    It was stupid of them.. I could see something happening…

    But.. Stupid. It wasn’t kidnapping. There was absolutely no intent to break the law here.

  61. Bourque77 says:

    @killavanilla: The article says they looked through the front windows so who knows what was in back (the repo guy certainly doesnt) I’d like to think a kid would jump out of the car actually. I mean what if a thief had taken the car. With all the stupid lawsuits in this country dont tell me no attorney wouldnt take this case. While I’m not saying these were great parents, the repo man should check the vehicle (by opening doors) and make sure nobody is inside.

  62. killavanilla says:

    @Bourque77:
    If they had looked in the window, they would have been able to see a car seat. They also would have been able to see a 4 year old in a car seat. And if the kid WAS in a car seat, they wouldn’t have been able to get out to jump.
    And you LIKE the idea that a kid would jump out of a car?
    What kind on farty nonsense is that?
    You teach your kids that they are supposed to stay seated in the car. You teach them that they are never to open the door when the car is moving.
    But most importantly, the chances of a theif taking a car with a kid in it is greatly reduced if you don’t leave your kid in the car alone.

  63. MrEvil says:

    I doubt the recovery company will get any more penalty than for towing a vehicle with a passenger inside (probably a ticket and a fine). I think all states say that tow trucks cannot tow a vehicle with an occupant. Its how alot of people keep from getting their car towed for unpaid parking tickets. If you’re in the vehicle they can’t tow.

  64. jermjerm says:

    Kid must have seen the episode of Dora the Explorer where she taught everyone how to “tuck and roll.”