The mother of the 9-year-old girl who was shown driving her intoxicated father in a large van said she was mortified when she was told about it, and still is.
Shawn Weimer, the father, is charged with child abuse and being a habitual offender. A judge in Woodhaven district court on Tuesday ordered the 39-year-old defendant not to have contact with his daughter or anyone under age 18.
Video from gas station surveillance cameras on Oct. 8 show Weimer letting his 9-year-old daughter drive his van. Weimer is heard on the video describing his amusement with the unique situation. He commended his daughter's driving ability and explained she was his designated driver while he sat drunk in the passenger's seat.
Police later pulled Weimer and his daughter over early that Saturday morning after a concerned gas station customer called 911.
The event has garnered national attention. The father's actions have spurred heated ridicule, and left many asking where the girl's mother was.
The mother, Heather Hannon, told Local 4 she's upset that many are placing the blame on her absence.
"The bad thing is, everybody's blaming me," Hannon said. "Where was mom during this time? Babara Walters wants to know where the mom was during this time? (My daughter) was gone with her dad for the weekend. Didn't even last the weekend. Because she didn't even go there until 6 p.m. Friday night."
Hannon said Weimer picked up their daughter the evening of Oct. 7. She said she checked to make sure everything was OK, just as she does every weekend the girl spends with her father.
"I went to the van window. I did not smell any alcohol. He did not appear to be under any influence whatsoever. And if he had been, she would not have gone with him," the mother said. "I was mortified when I found out about it and I am mortified now."
Hannon said she later found out that Weimer had been drinking whiskey the morning before the weekend with his daughter.
Then, at about 3 a.m. the next morning, the girl was carting her drunk father around in his van.
"When I saw the video surveillance ... I thought he was the biggest idiot I have ever seen in my life."
Hannon said she wants everyone to know that this has never happened before, and that her daughter had never driven before. She said she is just like every other good mother who gets caught in a bad situation.
"I have raised all four of my kids. We're in church every time the doors are open. You know what I mean? There's nothing I would do that would put her in danger," Hannon said.
Hannon said she now has to protect her daughter who she said feels terrible that her father, who she adores, is in trouble.
"Because, obviously, when they were walking in (to the gas station), she, her dad's laughing and bragging about it ... she doesn't think, she thinks she's cool," Hannon said. "(She thinks) her dad is making her out to look cool. So really, I don't think she was doing anything wrong. Why would she tell the police, 'Why did you pull me over? I was driving good.' You know what I mean? I think she was pretty much innocent in this situation. Her dad told her to drive, so she did."
Hannon said her daughter may need counseling. She said she has been receiving many requests by news outlets to share her story.
She took the 9-year-old to work with her Wednesday. Hannon wants all of this attention to die down.