Mom pleads guilty to felony for driving with son on top of minivan

DA to seek probation for woman who had 9-year-old hold kiddie pool on vehicle

AMBER SCHMUNK (left) stood by her attorney Rachel Boaz as Boaz spoke to reporters after a hearing in December. Press file photo
Ozaukee Press staff

A 29-year-old woman who drove down a Saukville street in September with her 9-year-old son on top of her minivan holding down a kiddie pool is now a felon.

Amber L. Schmunk, a Grafton resident who lived in Fredonia at the time of the incident, pleaded guilty to second-degree recklessly endangering safety during an March 14 hearing in Ozaukee County Circuit Court.

Apparently unable to negotiate with prosecutors something less than a felony conviction, Schmunk ended up pleading to the same crime she was charged with in October. But District Attorney Adam Gerol said he will recommend that a prison sentence be withheld and Schmunk be placed on probation for three years when she is sentenced by Judge Sandy Williams on April 26.

Second-degree recklessly endangering safety is punishable by a maximum five years in prison and five years of extended supervision.

Schmunk was confronted by Saukville police officers on Sept. 9 after they received a report of a minivan driving in the area of Hillcrest and Claremont roads with a child on top of the vehicle holding down a plastic pool around 3 p.m.    

A witness said the driver, later identified as Schmunk, eventually pulled over on South Colonial Parkway, took the child off the vehicle and wedged the pool in the minivan.

When officers caught up with Schmunk, who dropped the pool off at her sister’s house on South Colonial Parkway, she told them that she had picked up the pool at someone’s house but had no way to strap it to her minivan. So, she said, she had her son climb on top of the vehicle and hold the pool while she drove, according to the criminal complaint.

She said she only drove for a short time, maybe 20 to 30 seconds, before stopping and taking her son and the pool off the roof of the minivan, the complaint states.

Schmunk admitted to another officer that her oldest son was riding on top of her minivan as she drove but said he wasn’t in danger because she used a strap to tie the boy and the pool to the top of the vehicle, according to the complaint.

Schmunk also said she thought it was acceptable for her son to ride on top of the minivan because her father allowed her to do similar things when she was her son’s age, the complaint states.

After a hearing in December, Schmunk’s lawyer, public defender Rachel Boaz, described her client as “a very loving, very selfless and very devoted mother.”

Boaz and Gerol recommended a presentence investigation, which Williams ordered. The findings of that investigation, conducted by a state probation officer, will give the judge sentencing guidance.



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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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