Freetown man held on bail for allegedly crashing truck with young daughters inside
By Brian Fraga
January 09, 2010 12:00 AM
FALL RIVER A Freetown man ordered his two young daughters into his pickup truck and took them on a terrifying ride around his property Thursday afternoon, crashing into rocks, trees, a camper and a building, while the girls screamed and asked their father if he was trying to kill them, according to authorities.
The 10- and 12-year-old girls were cut by flying glass, and one girl's head slammed against a window, shattering the glass, authorities said. The ordeal ended when the truck slammed into the camper and stalled, allowing the girls to escape and run into their house, where they called 911, according to court records.
The children were taken to St. Anne's Hospital in Fall River and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
The girls' father, Mark W. Haskins, 39, of 24 Locust St., faces numerous criminal charges that include assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, reckless operation of a motor vehicle, malicious destruction of property and failing to have the girls wear seat belts.
It was not immediately clear what precipitated Thursday's terror ride, but Haskins' lawyer said the laid-off carpenter was taking antidepressants, has been having medical and family issues, and had banged his head against the truck prior to the incident.
"He has little recollection of what happened here," said defense lawyer Donald Friar, who described the episode as "an aberration."
Haskins was arraigned on the charges Friday in Fall River District Court and held on $10,000 cash bail. Friar had asked for $500 bail, but Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Gonzalez cited concerns for the children's safety and noted that Haskins had originally fled from police.
Haskins, who is the son of retired Freetown Fire Chief Wayne Haskins, turned himself in to local police just before 11 a.m. Friday. On Thursday, Freetown and Berkley police used dogs to scour the Freetown woods for more than four hours, while a state police helicopter searched from the air.
Haskins allegedly ran into the woods after he went inside his house and apologized to his daughters, telling them he loved them and that it would be the last time they saw him, court records said.
Police said the girls' mother was reluctant to cooperate with officers.
When Freetown police arrived just after 4:30 p.m., Thursday, they were met by Martha Haskins, who allegedly cursed at the officers when they told her they were investigating the incident.
Police said she told the officers, "We can smash our own things if we want," and, "It's not a big deal. Nobody got killed."
Martha Haskins also reportedly resisted efforts to transport the girls to the hospital.
Police said she also scolded her daughters for calling 911, telling them: "I'm going to stay with your father because we're married and you two can go live with DSS. I don't care."
The Department of Children and Families, formerly the Department of Social Services, was contacted and is investigating. According to court records, a DCF case worker told police the agency dealt with the family years ago when the couple reportedly abandoned a son who was subsequently taken into DCF custody.
Alison Goodwin, a DCF spokeswoman, said the girls are currently in the mother's custody.
A phone message left Friday at the Haskins' residence was not returned.
Freetown police interviewed the girls at the hospital Thursday. They said their father ordered them into his truck, then began driving into trees, rocks, a small building and a camper on the Locust Street property, court records said.
When one girl tried to call for help on her cell phone, Haskins ordered her to put it away. The girls said he pointed at objects right before crashing into them. But when one girl asked him he if was trying to kill them, Haskins said, "No, I'm not going to kill you."
Police later secured a search warrant and seized computer equipment connected to a surveillance system on the property.
Haskins is scheduled to return to court Feb. 3. Mooney ordered him to stay away from his daughters and to comply with any DCF instructions.