All my grandpa ever did when I was a little kid was offer me a shot of schnapps and a beer when I'd visit.
Couple jailed for pulling granddaughter from SUV in toy car
SARASOTA - A Sarasota couple is accused of taking their 7-year-old granddaughter on a very dangerous ride.
The sheriff's office said the grandparents tied a toy car to the back of their SUV and started towing the little girl! The grandfather is in jail; the family is trying to raise the $850 he needs to get him sprung.
His wife, the grandmother, was able to make bail and she told us, in a word, what they did, was stupid.
"Stupid idea," said Belinda Jean Berloni. "Stupid idea, I agree, I agree."
The 47-year-old grandmother admits it was not the best idea to entertain her granddaughter by pulling her around in a toy car.
"We took this and hooked it around the hitch of the truck and drove about five miles an hour up and down the street with her," she explained, holding-up two dog leashes, which were still connected.
She and her husband, 49-year-old grandfather Paul Berloni, had had a few beers.
"Yeah, we did, it's Sunday afternoon, had a few beers, no big deal, I didn't think," she said.
But a Sarasota County sheriff's deputy saw it differently.
"Paul Berloni told the deputy that he has five prior DUIs, I haven't confirmed that number, but I know the charge is for his 4th or subsequent DUI," said Wendy Rose, with the Sarasota Sheriff's Office.
Paul Berloni was also driving with a suspended license.
The grandmother told us she had already made three or four runs up and down the access road, pulling their granddaughter behind them, in that toy car, using a couple of dog leashes connected together. And they were just about to make their last run, when the Sheriff's deputy stopped them.
"So, were you surprised when the police stopped?," we asked. "Yes! Yes!," she exclaimed. "Well, I thought they were just gonna tell us we couldn't do it. Give us a warning, say, hey, this isn't very safe, maybe this is not a bright idea."
Belinda Berloni said she was sitting with her legs dangling out the back gate of their SUV, just a few feet from her granddaughter. Deputies said the little girl was wearing a bathing suit, no protective gear and no helmet. Luckily she was not hurt.
Berloni said she never felt she was in any danger.
"No," said Berloni. "She was all woot! woot! woot! the whole time anyway!," she said, pumping her fists in the air.Both grandparents face child endangerment charges. Belinda Berloni is on supervised release and is to have no contact with her granddaughter and no drinking. She also has to check in with the sheriff's office three times a week.
"We're just grateful that that child wasn't injured," said Rose.
And so is the grandmother.
"I love all my grandchildren," said Berloni. "I would never put them in harm's way."
Belinda Berloni told us her son is understandably mad at her for what happened, but she said, it was truly, a lesson learned.