Man arrested in hit-and-run of 4 middle schoolers

Police: 25-year-old allowed 13-year-old girl to drive

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Police have arrested a 25-year-old man in Monday's hit-and-run of four Arlington Middle School students after they said he knowingly allowed a 13-year-old girl to drive without a driver's license.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, John Baptisme was charged with four counts of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in an injury.

Three of the children were hospitalized after a white SUV drove onto a sidewalk on Lone Star Road just after 9 a.m. and hit the four children. None had life-threatening injuries.

According to a police report, Baptisme was in the front passenger seat, and the 13-year-old who was driving made too wide of a right turn onto Tracy Road from Lone Star and became nervous.

Police said Baptisme grabbed the steering wheel and jerked it to the right to try to move the vehicle into the proper travel lane. Police said Baptisme maintained control of the wheel and held the girl back with his other hand.

In doing so, the vehicle left the roadway, struck a curb and traveled into a grassy area, striking the four students walking to school, police said. They were struck from behind.

According to the report, the vehicle continued in a reckless manner and crossed over both lanes of Tracy Road and into a grassy parking lot of a church across from the scene.

Police said Baptisme then took full control of the vehicle by getting into the driver's seat and moving the girl to the passenger seat, then fled the scene without assisting the victims or calling 911.

Baptisme dropped the teen off near Terry Parker High School and told her to walk to school, according to the report.

Police found the vehicle and Baptisme at his temporary home, where he was arrested.

An investigator at the scene identified Baptisme as the teen's mother's boyfriend.

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