HALIFAX, Pa. (WHTM) – A first-grade teacher at Susquenita Elementary School and her husband are facing charges after police say the couple allowed multiple children between 8 and 14 years old to drive a vehicle on public roads.
Yvonne E. Wiest, 47, and Neil F. Wiest, of Camp Hill, are each charged with misdemeanor counts of endangering the welfare of children, corruption of minors, reckless endangerment, and a summary offense.
In a criminal complaint, state police said Neil Weist on or around Sept. 9, 2018, forced a 14-year-old to drive at night on a public road populated with other drivers, even though the boy did not want to get behind the wheel. Yvonne Wiest had no objections and encouraged the boy, telling him it was “not that big of a deal” and “you can do this.”
During a second incident on or around Sept. 29, 2018, it was reported the family was returning home from a wine festival in northern Dauphin County. Neil Wiest moved to the passenger seat and allowed his children to take turns driving a Ford Excursion for about five minutes on their own. The children, reported to be between the ages of 9 and 12 years old, passed one to two cars per minute, the complaint states.
In interviews with investigators, the children said they were lucky cars were not coming in the opposite lane at certain times. They said there were times when they veered off the road and into the opposite lane.
When his children were finished driving, Neil Wiest forced an 8-year-old boy to drive. When the boy cried, Neil Wiest told him, “sometimes you have to do things in life you don’t want to (expletive) do” and “if you don’t start now, you’ll probably never learn,” police wrote in the complaint.
Neil Wiest told the boy to get on his lap. He put his feet on the pedals and helped the boy to steer. Yvonne Wiest told the boy it was “fine” and “no big deal,” police said.
The children told police they didn’t want to drive but feared what would happen if they did not.
Susquehanna superintendent Kent Smith said Yvonne Wiest is currently on paid leave. He said because of the legal and personnel implications, the district will have no further comment at this time.