Landon C. Hammonds and Katrina A. Taylor
A Kingsport couple face multiple charges after allegedly letting an 11-year-old they were babysitting drive a vehicle on city streets, eventually crashing into a home.
The male suspect — who told police he was straddling the car's center console to operate the pedals, while the child was behind the wheel — was reportedly intoxicated during the incident. Upon arrest he allegedly admitted to downing another bottle of liquor following the wreck.
Meanwhile, his girlfriend attempted to claim she wasn't in the vehicle when the incident occurred, according to police, though witnesses saw her exit the car after the crash — and carrying beer cans from the vehicle as they fled the scene.
Kingsport police records say the incident occurred at approximately 7:20 Monday evening on Hawthorne Street. Katrina A. Taylor, 52, of nearby 3805 Bond St., apartment A, and her boyfriend Landon C. Hammonds, 49, of 205 Sioux Drive, were arrested by responding officers and booked into the city jail
Records state the pair were babysitting a friend's 11-year-old daughter. When the girl mentioned that her father sometimes lets her drive in a vacant parking lot, they reportedly decided to let her test out Taylor's 2000 Mercury Mystique.
Hammonds would later tell police that he didn't want to let the girl drive, but he "couldn't argue" with Taylor. And she's alleged to have later admitted knowing her boyfriend had been, "drunk since he went to work this morning."
With the girl behind the steering wheel, Taylor allegedly entered the backseat, while Hammonds operated the car's brake and gas pedals from the front passenger side. The trio reportedly backed the car successfully out of a driveway at Taylor's residence on Bond Street, then continued onto Locust Street.
The girl told police that she lost control of the car on Hawthorne Street after it hit a bump on a downhill grade, with Hammonds unable to get it stopped. The vehicle left the roadway and entered a yard at 2129 Hawthorne St., crashing through a chain link fence. It then struck a swing set before coming to rest against the side of the home.
Witnesses reportedly told police that Taylor and Hammonds were seen exiting the vehicle with the child — collecting beer cans from the car before walking back to Bond Street. Taylor reportedly denied being in the vehicle multiple times to officers, but Hammonds and the child corroborated witness statements that she was along for the ride.
When responding officers located the pair at Taylor's residence, Hammonds admitted to drinking "a bottle of liquor" immediately after the crash. He was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, driving under the influence, leaving the scene of a crash, failure to have insurance and operating a vehicle on a revoked license.
Taylor was arrested and charged with reckless endangerment, filing a false police report and contributing to the delinquency of a minor, as she knowingly let a juvenile operate her vehicle. She is additionally charged with DUI by consent, for allowing Hammonds to operate the car's pedals while intoxicated.
The girl's mother was called by police and responded to take custody of her child.