HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - A car in reverse, two children inside, and police say the father was passed out behind the wheel.
Now, Ernesto Legayada, 47, of Hungary Spring Road in Henrico, faces several charges including DUI and felony child neglect. The incident happened late Wednesday, in the West end.
Just minutes before midnight on West End Drive, a passerby noticed a vehicle not moving, but somehow stuck in reverse.
One phone call later, and police arrived. They say Legayada was passed out behind the wheel with his children, a 1-year-old girl and 5-year-old boy, in the back seat. Authorities believe the car had rolled backward, up onto the curb.
"His vehicle was positioned in a way that the left rear wheel was in the grassy area," said Henrico Police Lt. Jim Price.
ANDY: "So, were it not for this grass median here, this car could've kept going backward?"
JIM: "It certainly could've kept going backward."
Police say Legayada had been drinking at a friend's house, adding that it's unclear exactly how long he'd been asleep behind the wheel.
"In the position he was in someone could've come up and run into the vehicle, that could've happened. He could've crashed and it could've been a worse tragedy," Price said.
The children were fine, though, and after midnight, they were turned over to their mother, who was home at the time. There, one neighbor said the charges sounded so out-of-character.
"I do think people deserve a second chance. People can make mistakes in life, and then you know, you look behind and think 'What did I do?'" said neighbor Sandra Basil.
Police say Legayada did, initially, refuse a blood alcohol test, but arrest records later showed his level was between .08 and .14.
"If you find yourself in that position then seek other ways or means to be driven home," Price said.
Legayada is out on bond, though no one answered the door at his house this afternoon. He's due back in court in September.