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Police: Aunt told 11-year-old to move vehicle, sparking gas station fire

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TOLEDO, OH (Toledo News Now) -

Lashawnda Braddy, 28, is facing child endangering charges after police say she told her 11-year-old niece to drive her vehicle.

Braddy pulled into the Shell station in west Toledo around 10:30 p.m. Monday to get gas.  Police say after exiting her vehicle, she found she had stopped short of the reach of the pump. That is when police say Braddy told her 11-year-old niece to pull the car forward.  When the young girl climbed into the driver's seat and attempted to do so, she lost control of the SUV and struck the gas pump, sparking a large fire.

The car is a total loss. No one was hurt in the incident, but police say it could have been much worse.

"We don't get a lot of those cases to begin with where we have gas stations on fire, and especially with a minor child like that, that's told by a parent to move the vehicle for them. That's a very dangerous thing to do, very unwise. To start a fire like that can be extremely dangerous. We were lucky that we didn't have anything worse happen than that, that it was under control very quickly. You shouldn't let your minor children, unlicensed, drive your vehicle, even if it's just two feet. You can't do it. It's illegal," said Toledo Police Lt. Mark King.

No one was available at Braddy's house for a comment, and no calls have been returned.  

Braddy has been charged with child endangering, which is a first-degree misdemeanor.

"We don't take things like that lightly. We're going to charge people when they do something like that," said King.

TrueNorth is the company that owns the gas station. A spokesperson said they are assessing damage costs. They will keep the station open, but limited pumps will be available until it is safe to turn them on again.

Similar incidents have been reported recently in the Detroit and Columbus area. Those children were also under 13.

"11-year-olds are not licensed. It's illegal. They do not have the maturity to do something like that. Adults should know that and realize it's very unsafe," said King.

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