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Dad charged after allegedly leaving injured children in van

Posted by: Nicole Norfleet under People and neighborhoods, Public safety Updated: July 2, 2014 - 5:42 PM

A Brooklyn Park man was charged Wednesday with child endangerment and multiple counts of criminal vehicular operation after he allegedly left his injured children in a vehicle after fleeing an accident scene in St. Paul.

Earl L. Ward, 45, also was charged in Ramsey County District Court with violating a no contact order.

According to the complaint:

About 3:30 a.m. Tuesday, police responded to a report of an accident at Hazel Street and Mechanic Avenue in St. Paul. As they arrived at the scene, they found a woman running and screaming who pointed to a van that had damage to its front end and was resting in an 8-10-inch-deep cut-out or hole in the middle of the street. The cut out was clearly marked with orange cones, signs and tape.

Officers found a boy and a girl, identified by relatives as Amarya West, 14, and her brother, Almond, 8, in the front passenger compartment of the vehicle. The girl could only move her head, but no other part of her body. The boy told police that his leg was broken.

The woman who had been screaming, identified by a relative as Della Svenningsen, told police that Ward was her boyfriend. Svenningsen said they had gone to a drive-in movie theater with their two children and her older son and her son’s girlfriend.

Ward had been drinking alcohol during the movie, she said.

After the movies ended, Svenningsen drove the group to her son's girlfriend's home. During the ride, she and Ward got into an argument. Svenningsen, her older son, and the girlfriend got out of the vehicle when they arrived at the girlfriend's home, but Ward told Svenningsen to get back into the vehicle so he could leave.

When she refused, Ward slid over to the driver’s seat and drove away. A short time later, Svenningsen heard a loud crash and her two children crying. She ran down the street where she found the vehicle in the hole. She saw Ward standing outside, but when she ran to call for help and returned, he was gone.

The children were taken to Regions Hospital. Amarya West suffered fractures to her spine, and experienced decreased sensation below her shoulders. She also suffered injuries to her head and teeth. Almond West suffered a broken leg and another leg injury that required surgery.

On Tuesday, police received a tip around 6:30 p.m. that Ward could be at his sister’s home in St. Paul. When officers arrived, they found Ward sleeping in a vehicle in the parking lot.

Svenningsen told police that Ward had punched her in the face a week before and also strangled her about a month ago. Two no contact orders prohibit Ward from having contact with Svenningsen.

Ward has an extensive criminal history including 11 felony convictions.

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