'She did not understand the danger': Reports describe rescues, arrests of moms
Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Nov. 7, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
PIMA COUNTY, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - Law enforcement said two women drove into flooded washes with their children in tow. At first, they faced child abuse charges, but those initial charges were dismissed. Now, one of the mothers faces a new count of child abuse. At the same time, 9 On Your Side obtains law enforcement reports detailing their rescues and arrests.
One Pima County Sheriff’s Department report states 29-year-old Edna Encinas called a tow truck because she was stuck in the Black Wash on September 7. That truck driver arrived and called 911 because roadblocks kept him from getting to the SUV at Valencia and Camino Verde.
Inside with Encinas, according to the report: her three children, ages two, six and 11. A rescuer said they were in about "two to two and a half feet of water,” and about "20 to 25 yards in front" of them was road closure sign. No one was injured.
"I asked her if she had been able to see the road closure sign across the wash," an officer stated. "She said she had not because of the pickup trucks crossing in front of her."
"She said she was in a hurry and had to get her kids to school and her vehicle stalled,” the officer stated.
"Throughout my contact with the female, it appeared as though she did not understand the danger of driving through a flooded wash with an unknown bottom and a large amount of sand with her three children and becoming stranded in it,” the report continued.
Deputies arrested Encinas on the spot for three counts of child abuse and one count reckless driving -- charges dismissed by the county prosecutor last month.
On September 6, a different sheriff’s department report states 18-year-old Tiffany Sherman called 911, as she was "trapped" in her car with her one month old. No one was injured.
“It did not appear that the baby had any other clothing on other than a diaper,” an officer stated. The flowing water "was covering the seats inside of the vehicle."
Fourteen officers responded, according to the report. For rescuers, the water was "mid-thigh, almost to waist level."
An officer wrote: "...I noticed I passed two barricades, and she would have had to pass three to get stuck where she was located." Sherman told investigators she saw the signs but went around them, following another vehicle -- something the search and rescue team disputed.
Deputies arrested Sherman for child abuse, a felony. Prosecutors dismissed that initial charge last month and recently brought it back. She was arraigned last week and is scheduled to appear in court in a few weeks, according to a superior court spokeswoman.
A Pima County Attorney’s Office representative wasn’t available for an interview after 9 On Your Side asked for one Wednesday afternoon.