NORTH TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) - Police say a child's plea for help led to the arrest of a mother in North Tonawanda. The woman is accused of driving drunk with three children in the car.
Her daughter and two neighborhood children were in the car at the time. Police say this case is yet another reminder of the sad truth of how tough it can be for children in a home with someone who has an alleged drinking problem.
The real note is in evidence, but North Tonawanda Police Chief Randy Szukala displayed what it looked like, and what it said. "Please help us," wrote a 9-year-old girl, when she and two other children, ages 8 and 12, were trapped in a car with her mother, who police believe was intoxicated.
Chief Szukala said, "They didn't have the ability to take the keys away. They didn't have the ability to make a phone call. A 9-year-old girl thought of the writing this note, hoping to flag someone down by saying, 'We need help.'"
>> Bizarrely, the same thing happened in Michigan, but inside a bank. Police there said a 9-year-old girl slipped a note to a bank teller saying her mom had been drinking and that she didn't want to be driven home by her
38-year-old Bonnie Will now faces felony DWI and reckless endangerment, the first person in North Tonawanda to be charged under Leandra's Law.
Detectives say it was 9 a.m. on Tuesday when Will suddenly stopped her car on a busy stretch of River Road, and sat there disoriented. That's when her daughter wrote the desperate note; she held it to a window.
"You have three children, three innocent kids in the car, and like I said, they don't have the ability to stop the action and protect themselves and now for that moment, they're in fear," said Chief Szukala.
A motorist saw the note, stopped and called police. Will allegedly told officers that her sugar level was low, and refused to submit to a blood alcohol sensor. But officers claimed it was obvious she was intoxicated. North Tonawanda Police say this wasn't the first time Will's been in trouble with the law. She got a DWI from an incident back in 2004.
Will didn't answer when we tried to speak to her at her city of Tonawanda home. Police believe she was headed to Tops on that day, but was found three quarters of a mile out of the way, thanks to her daughter.
Chief Szukala said, "Hopefully years from now, if mom does have an addiction, she beat the addiction. That would be the only positive outcome."
New York State has some of the toughest DWI laws in the country. Leandra's Law is relatively new, and specifically covers DWI cases with children in the vehicle.
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