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Dad Receives Tickets for Saving Son

By Whit Honea |

When Frank Roder, 38, took his 5-year-old son, Aidan, to feed ducks along the Rahway River in New Jersey, he had no idea what kind of father and son bonding moment awaited them.

Roder, according to Fox News (I know), was in the process of parking his jeep when Aidan, feeling the vehicle slow to a near stop, got excited and jumped out. The thing is, Dad wasn’t actually parked yet, he was still looking for a space.

Aidan had no time for such technicalities. He had ducks to feed. He took off running — right toward a cliff hanging 35 feet above the river.

Roder didn’t park the Jeep. He didn’t set the brake or lock the doors. Instead he jumped out of his seat and saved his son, just steps before falling to sure tragedy.

Dad was, understandably, lost in the combined fears and relief of the moment when Aidan said, “Um, Daddy…”

And then they watched the Jeep as it rolled down the hill into the waiting waters below. The ducks, presumably, were greatly inconvenienced.

A few hours later, after the Jeep was pulled out by crane, a police officer approached Roder and issued him two tickets. The first was for failure to produce proof of insurance (the insurance card was in the Jeep), and the second was for failure to set the emergency brake.

Fox reports that Roder, somewhat baffled, responded by asking the officer, “Really? And if I did (take time to set the brake) and my boy stepped over the edge and fell instead of the Jeep, then were would I be?”

“Jail,” said the officer, “for child endangerment.”

This brings to mind the words of Detective Axel Foley (Beverly Hills Cop), “What’s the f***in’ charge for getting pushed out of a moving car? Jaywalking?”

Seriously. The guy almost lost his kid, and he did lose his vehicle (it started, but Roder feared his insurance company would consider it totaled). And it was almost much worse. Roder had intended to bring his six-week-old son with him, but decided against it at the last minute.

“I can’t even think about that,” he said.

Now I know what you’re thinking. How did the kid get out? The Jeep that Roder was driving is a Commander, meaning that it is of the SUV/wagon variety, and as such is totally enclosed, so there were doors involved. Was Aidan in a car seat? Were the child locks on?

I don’t have the answers to that, but there was no indication that Aidan was not properly buckled in — I’m sure Roder would have received a ticket had that been the case.

To put this in a personal context, my six-year-old son has the very bad habit of unbuckling his seat belt the moment the car rolls to a near stop — not at intersections or in traffic, but once we enter a parking lot or driveway he thinks that slowing down is close enough and he’s ready to get out and seize the day. We then have a discussion about it and the dangers involved EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. He’ll get it eventually, but it happens, and it may have happened to Roder.

Regardless of what led to Aidan getting out of the car, the fact that Roder reacted quickly enough to save his son is amazing and inspiring. The tickets? Not so much.

What do you think? Was the officer correct to issue tickets to Roder or should he have used his discretion to access the situation differently?

It would appear that dads jumping out of moving vehicles is the new black. Check out this video!

Whit Honea can be found writing about whatever he feels like at his personal site Honea Express (Honea sounds like pony) and DadCentric. If you’re really bored you can follow him on the Twitter or Pinterest (his opinions are his own and do not reflect those of Babble or most rational people).

Also from Whit:

There is a Monster at the End of This Video Game

Kids Vs. Spouse

The Huff and Puff of Big, Bad Dad

Free Things to Do on Father’s Day


More on Babble

About Whit Honea


Whit Honea

Whit Honea is an award-winning writer living in the greater Los Angeles area with his wife, two boys, and too many pets. His personal blog, Honea Express, is updated quarterly (give or take.) Read bio and latest posts → Read Whit Honea's latest posts →

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4 thoughts on “Dad Receives Tickets for Saving Son

  1. theycallmecody says:

    Having worked for a prosecutor’s office in traffic court, I can say that the ticket for failure to use the emergency break would be a foreseeable ticket under those circumstances. The piling on by adding a failure to produce proof of insurance ticket, however, usually only occurs if the defendant acted in some way that pissed off the officer. Considering the circumstances, that officer was either treated very badly by the father, or the officer is a giant D-bag (those types of officers do exist).

  2. warpwind says:

    I have to agree to the “failure to break” ticket as well (not the insurance one). Applying the handbrake may take a few seconds but your ensuring the vehicle can’t injure anyone. Imagine if it had struck another family feeding ducks on it’s way down. In any emergency situation the very first thing you do is ensure there is no danger to yourself or others. A paramedic in an ambulance has to apply a handbrake before responding to an emergency. But yes it certainly looks like the officer could have been nicer about it.

  3. guajolote says:

    It cost the police dept time and money to be there while the car was hauled out of the pond. And the runaway car could have squished some other kid, calmly feeding the ducks with his family. So one ticket makes sense. The proof of insurance one, however, is a jerky ticket.

  4. Alison says:

    This kind of crap is why people hate police officers. That officer should have shown some common sense and left him alone.

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