ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — An Eagan man faces child endangerment charges for letting his 8-year-old cousin drive his car.

Blake Folson, 25, was in the passenger seat when the child drove and crashed into another vehicle at Atlantic Street and Reaney Avenue in St Paul. It’s not the first time Folson has allowed kids to get behind the wheel.

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Belen Ortiz was watching TV Monday night when she heard a loud bang.

“Everybody came out. Everybody came out of their houses to see what was going on,” Ortiz said.

Belen’s mother took a photograph of the crash that happened outside their St. Paul home. According to the criminal complaint, a witness told police she saw Blake Folson controlling the steering wheel of the Jeep Cherokee while a young boy was operating the accelerator and brakes.

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

When the Jeep approached the intersection, the child made an abrupt U-turn and then crashed into the Buick that was behind it.

“I thought someone had just rear-ended the car. I didn’t know it was a kid that was driving,” Ortiz said.

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Folson first told police the 8-year-old had taken his car keys and took off.  He said he tried to stop the child.

But the child’s older sister told police Folson was already in the Jeep before his cousin. And that he often let his juvenile family members sit on his lap while driving or he let them drive.

The boy told police he was driving the Jeep when it crashed and said “It was stupid.”  He then started to cry.

Folson admitted “I ended up letting him drive” and that he had let other young cousins drive before.

The child told police he was not wearing a seatbelt when he was driving. His mother said she was unaware that Folson allowed her son to drive.  Folson’s blood alcohol content was .039, which is legal to drive. No one was seriously injured in the accident.

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He faces up to a year in prison and a $3,000 fine. He was in custody at the Ramsey County Jail but he posted bail. We actually spoke to him off camera at his home in Eagan. He declined to talk on camera, but only said he was embarrassed about the charges and is due in court next month.

Kate Raddatz