A Connecticut teen is accused of stealing a car from a woman visiting a gravesite in Bloomfield, then hitting a 10-year-old girl in the cemetery as he drove off Sunday afternoon.
The owner of the car, Annemarie Rabett of West Hartford, left the keys in the ignition of her Pontiac Sunfire while visiting a grave at Mt. St. Benedict Cemetery.
That's when 18-year-old Frederick Sowell, of Hartford, got into the car, police said.
"I went to get some water to water my plants at the grave and he took over and ran over to the car," Rabett explained. She and an 86-year-old friend were paying their respects to deceased loved ones when Sowell stole the car.
Rabett's friend had been waiting in the car and jumped out the passenger side when Sowell got in, according to police. Rabett said her friend was not hurt.
Police said the owner of the car ran back to her vehicle and grabbed Sowell through the open driver's door. But he pushed her away and took off, speeding across the graveyard lawn and driving over several tombstones, police said.
When Sowell got to a portion of the cemetery across the Windsor line, he hit a 10-year-old girl who was with a group of about 30 other people visiting another grave, police said.
An ambulance brought the child to Connecticut Children's Medical Center to be treated for minor injuries to her back.
"That's not fair to peopple that are going to pay respects, and they hear somebody, you know, taking off with my car and going all over the place with it," Rabett said. "And then he hit the poor little girl. Then I felt bad. I started really crying because I felt so bad."
Meanwhile, several people who were in the group with the girl chased Sowell and stopped him at the cemetery exit on Cottage Grove Road, detaining him until police arrived.
Police charged Sowell with carjacking, second-degree robbery, second-degree larceny, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree breach of peace.
He was held on $250,000 bond and appeared in court Monday, where bond was raised to $500,000.
Sowell's mother, Valerye Houston-Sowell, said in court that her son has a history of mental problems and has been taking medication for bipolar disorder. Houston-Sowell said she had planned to take him to a hospital for treatment.
She explained that her son has no prior record and told her he was heading to the store before the incident. She said he has his own car and would not need to steal one.
"We were both thinking he could have had a knife or a gun on him, but he didn't, thank God," Rabett said.
Windsor police are investigating the crash in their town and are pursuing other charges, Bloomfield police said.
Sowell is due back in court next month.