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Bad idea: Florida couple use SUV to tow grandkid in toy car

May 01, 2012|By Rene Lynch

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It's only May 1, but a Florida couple arrested this week are sure to make any "worst-grandparents of the year" list if law enforcement claims are true.

A Sarasota County sheriff's deputy arrested the pair on suspicion of using dog leashes to hitch their 6-year-old granddaughter's toy car to their SUV, dragging it (and their granddaughter) up and down the street for a day of fun in the sun.

Did we mention that authorities say both grandparents had been drinking?

The scene was enough to make the sheriff's deputy stop in his tracks during his Sunday afternoon patrol: "The small car was attached to the [SUV] with two dog leashes tied together then tied to the trailer hitch. The child was wearing a swimsuit only and had no protective gear on whatsoever. I estimated the vehicle speed to be 5 to 10 miles per hour," according to police records posted on The Smoking Gun.

If you need an added visual, ABC news nabbed a picture of the arrest scene.

When the deputy stopped grandparents Paul and Belinda Berloni, he said,  he found that they had both been drinking.

The grandmother suggested the deputy was just being a party pooper, according to the report.

"[She] stated that she understood that it was dangerous to drag a child behind the vehicle but stated they were just having fun and had been doing this all day," according to the report.

The deputy called the girl's father who arrived on the scene and began yelling at his mother, saying ... well, we can't repeat what he said. But you can read the salty language for yourself in the police report.

Thankfully, the deputy said, the little girl was unharmed. That almost makes the story kind of funny, which might explain why it was pinging around the Internet on Tuesday.

But if you delve into the police record, the story sobers up pretty quickly.

Paul Berloni told police he has been arrested for drinking and driving at least five times. (Authorities found documentation for only three convictions.) He was also driving with a suspended license. The girl's father told police that he thinks his parents have chronic alcohol problems.

The report doesn't explain why he'd then leave them in charge, but that might not happen again anytime soon.

The grandparents each face charges of felony cruelty to a child. Paul Berloni additionally faces charges of driving under the influence, and driving with a suspended license.

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