Cops: Children jumped from car to escape drunken father's driving



FLAGLER COUNTY, Fla. - Three children visiting from Ohio jumped from a moving car in Flagler County to escape their drunken father, said authorities.

The three children, an 11-year-old boy and two 9-year-old girls, told authorities they got into the car with their father, Dimitri M. Nicholas, 41, of Piqua, Ohio, at about 4 p.m. Monday.

Investigators said the children told them their father had been acting strangely all morning and they were planning to go out to pick up food, so they piled into Nicholas' Chevy Impala.

The children told deputies their father was driving very slowly and didn't know seem to know where he was going.

They also said Nicholas kept veering off the road and his erratic driving scared them, an arrest report said.

The children jumped from the moving car while Nicholas was driving slowly, the report said.

"That's an indication of how scared they were. It's not normal for a 9 or 11-year-old to think about doing, especially when they're with their father," said Lt. Bob Weber of the Flagler County Sheriff's Office.

Authorities said the girls were not hurt in the fall, but the boy cut his lower right leg on the car door. His injuries were minor.

The arrest report stated that after the children jumped from the car, Nicholas kept driving and did not come back for his children or speak with investigators for more than four hours.

Officers said the children called a woman who identified herself as Nicholas' ex-girlfriend. Flagler deputies did not release the woman's name.

The woman told investigators that Nicholas called her several times Monday and she could tell he had been drinking because his speech was slurred.

The woman said she later got a call from Nicholas' daughter, who was crying while telling her about the incident. The girl stated that they had to run to a neighbor's home to make the call.

Nicholas did not come back to the home where he was staying during his visit until about 8 p.m. Monday, authorities said.

When deputies interviewed him, they asked where his children were. Officers said Nicholas thought they were inside the home.

Investigators contacted the Department of Children and Families.

According to the report, Nicholas was having trouble maintaining his balance and had the strong smell of alcohol on his breath when he was arrested.

Deputies said he was stumbling around the subdivision in a drunken stupor four hours after his kids jumped out of the car.

Nicholas faces felony child neglect charges and was granted $2,500 bail.

The children were returned home to their mother in Ohio.

The kids and their dad were supposed to go home on Saturday but mom had them flown home early. She has custody of the children and social services there was investigating.

His ex-wife told deputies he's been reported to child services several times this year.


Follow Anthony DiLorenzo on Twitter at @ADiLorenzoWFTV for live updates from the scene.