Father allowed 5-year-old to drive car that crashed, Nashville police say

Police charged the father with driving under the influence after the car crashed into a mailbox on Charlotte Pike.
Mailbox 5yo crashed into
Mailbox 5yo crashed into(WSMV)
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 8:03 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 16, 2023 at 6:55 PM CST
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - A Bellevue man was driving drunk when he let his 5-year-old son take over the wheel and crash their car into a neighbor’s yard, according to a court affidavit.

Police said a witness told officers he watched the car hit a mailbox in the 8000 block of Charlotte Pike on Saturday. The driver then grabbed his young son from the car and ran from the scene.

Police found the crashed car on the side of the road with multiple open bottles of alcohol left inside, according to court documents. Police looked up the license plate information and tracked it to a house about a half-mile down Charlotte Pike.

When officers arrived at the home of John Edwin Harris, they said the 53-year-old was driving his wife’s car down the driveway.

A car crashed into a mailbox on Charlotte Pike on Saturday.
A car crashed into a mailbox on Charlotte Pike on Saturday.(WSMV)

Harris told officers he allowed his 5-year-old son to drive the car and that the child jerked the steering wheel to cause the crash, according to the affidavit.

The car crashed into Sue Hows’ mailbox. She said her late husband installed the mailbox, made from metal and concrete, when they first moved to the house around 45 years ago.

She said the father and son were lucky to survive the crash after seeing the damage to the mailbox.

“It’s very upsetting, especially when I find out a 5-year-old child was driving the car,” Hows said. “Where does the responsibility fall? On the man? If he was intoxicated, what in the world was he doing out with a 5-year-old child in the car?”

Hows wants Harris to pay for a new mailbox to be bought and installed at the end of her driveway. She couldn’t understand why a parent would put their child at risk behind the wheel of a car.

“He was probably so drunk that he couldn’t drive himself,” Hows said. “So, therefore, he let the child drive the car. The child couldn’t’ reach the pedals and had no sense of where he was. You can barely blame a child for something a drunk man did.”

Harris admitted to drinking on Saturday morning, police said. He failed his field sobriety test, could barely stand and smelled of alcohol, according to the affidavit.

The child told officers he was not hurt, according to the affidavit, although investigators found a mark on the windshield that looked like it was from someone’s head.

Harris was charged with DUI and leaving the scene of an accident. He has been released from jail on a $4,000 bond, according to court records.