A driverless minivan - shifted into gear by a 2-year-old left unattended in the running vehicle - plowed into a parked sport utility vehicle yesterday in a bizarre accident that left a 1-year-old pinned briefly under the SUV's front tire, Anne Arundel County police said.
The younger child, Larry Donzel Chambers of Arbutus, was in critical condition last night at Johns Hopkins Hospital after the incident, which began about 12:30 p.m. yesterday in a Rent-A-Center parking lot in Brooklyn Park and ended across the street, where bystanders managed to lift the SUV off the baby, police said.
Betty Jane Little, 44, and her daughter, Teresa Little, 20, both of Crofton had run into the Rent-A-Center, leaving their 1993 Dodge Caravan running and two young children alone in the vehicle, police said.
Jaelyn Burris, 2, crawled into the driver's seat of the vehicle and pulled the gear shift into the "drive" position, police said.
Jaelyn and her 1-year-old brother, Cameron, went on a brief but wild ride that took them across the Rent-A-Center parking lot and busy Hammonds Lane, over a curb and into the Rite Aid parking lot, where the minivan smacked into a parked 1994 Ford Explorer, according to a police report.
Although the two children share an address with Betty Little, their relationship was not clear last night.
The crash occurred just as a family was trying to get into the Explorer, police said. The force of the impact knocked the Chambers baby from the arms of Danielle Mariee Chambers, 19, hurling him to the ground, where he became lodged under the Explorer's right front tire, police said.
Police said about 15 bystanders in the Rite Aid parking lot rushed over and lifted the vehicle off the baby.
Larry Chambers was taken by ambulance to Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Dana Craig, 23, of Arbutus, the baby's mother, was treated at the scene for minor injuries, as were Danielle Chambers - her relationship to the baby was unclear yesterday - and 5-year-old Devin Razor, police said.
In the minivan, Jaelyn Burris, sustained minor injuries and was taken to North Arundel Hospital, and Cameron Burris was not injured, police said.
Cpl. Joe Hatcher, a police spokesman, said results of the investigation will be forwarded to the state's attorney's office, which will decide whether charges will be filed.
"It's one of those things where you don't think anything could possibly happen," Hatcher said, "but it's the same as if your child plays with a family gun: The way the law is written, the parent can be charged."