A Michigan mother ran over her 9-year-old son’s head with her SUV in his elementary school parking lot. The act was called “simply inexcusable,” but what’s perhaps even worse is the sentence she received.
Tiffany Kosakowski (Photo Credit: Kent County Sheriff’s Office)
Tiffany Kosakowski of Belmont, Michigan, was dropping her son Julian off at school when she ran over the 9-year-old boy with her SUV outside Chandler Woods Charter Academy, where he was a third-grade student. The 36-year-old mom was attempting to shake the boy’s grip from the vehicle’s door handle when she ran him over in the school parking lot, breaking multiple bones in his body and fracturing his skull.
Julian had followed his mother from the school and ran up to her SUV after she dropped him off, but Kosakowski told him to go back inside. He didn’t. Instead, he grabbed the door handle. Rather than stop, his mom hit the gas. Kosakowski admitted to investigators that she knew her son had continued to walk alongside her SUV as she drove, WZZM reported. According to a court document, Kosakowski also “admitted to moving the steering wheel from left to right, then accelerating the vehicle” as she tried to shake loose his grasp.
Tiffany Kosakowski ran over her son in front of his elementary school. (Photo Credit: Screenshot)
As his mother drove off, Julian clung to the door for nearly 50 yards before he lost his grip and fell under a back tire, which ran over his head and body. Julian sustained multiple broken bones and a fractured skull — injuries severe enough, they could have killed him. Although Julian lived — much to the surprise of his doctors — he was in a coma for a week. Afterward, he would require constant care and physical therapy due to the significant injuries he suffered.
Tiffany Kosakowski was charged with second-degree child abuse and reckless driving causing serious injury. “It is simply inexcusable what you did,” Kent County Circuit Court Judge Curt Benson told the mother in a Michigan courtroom. “Your little boy has suffered terribly,” the judge added, explaining that the rear wheel went over Julian’s “full body, full head.”
Judge Curt Benson (Photo Credit: Screenshot)
Before sentencing Kosakowski, Judge Benson heard from the boy’s father, John Rodriguez, who said his grief was compounded by his many failed attempts to prevent a tragedy like this from happening. Rodriguez said he hadn’t seen his son in 5 years before seeing him in a coma in the hospital, but he tried “for years” to intervene due to Kosakowski being “so unstable, so irrational, and so reckless.” Rodriguez said he also told detectives that “something is not right” with Kosakowski.
“His head covered in wires [and] tubes and sensors in his mouth and all over his little body,” Rodriguez said, recalling seeing his son in a coma. “Investigators measured 47 yards, someone drove 47 yards swerving left and right to shake him off,” he added. He also quoted a report that said Kosakowski “swerved a little and gave it a little gas,” according to AJC. After describing how Julian was found on the pavement, in a pool of blood, Rodriguez added that, due to the traumatic brain injury, his son will never be the same.
“Doctor’s words: ‘Your son is forever changed.’ He must grow into his disability,” Rodriguez told the court, hoping Kosakowski would receive a stiff sentence. But, others felt differently. In fact, the judge received about 30 letters from family and friends, and most of them — with the exception of letters from Julian’s dad and an aunt and uncle — expressed support for Kosakowski. Benson acknowledged the letters, adding a caveat:
“Of the 30 people who wrote the letters, I’ll be quite blunt with you: I am not sure all of them would be as supportive, if they, like I, watched the security footage of this incident which is simply inexcusable,” Benson said. “It was really hard to watch, and I am not sure you would enjoy as much support as you evidently do, had that been widely distributed.”
Kosakowski’s attorney, Anna Rapa, argued that the mother is the “only stability” her children have, describing her client as a “loving parent” whose biggest concern is her son’s recovery. To some degree, Judge Benson must have agreed because, after Kosakowski pleaded guilty to reckless driving, she only received 30 days in jail — which she was permitted to serve on weekends so she could take her son to his doctor appointments.
Attorney Anna Rapa with Tiffany Kosakowski (Photo Credit: Screenshot)
Benson actually sentenced Kosakowski to 6 months, but all but the 30 days were suspended. She was also given 5-years probation. The charge of second-degree child abuse was dismissed in a plea agreement. According to both AJC and MLive, Kosakowski retained custody and was still caring for her son — who has a twin sister — and taking him to get treatment at the time of her sentencing. Perhaps that is a reason for Benson’s seemingly lenient sentence.
Judge Benson seemed to allude to another punishment Tiffany Kosakowski would be subjected to for the rest of her life. The judge said he didn’t want to compound the boy’s tragedy by taking his mother away for a significant amount of time but added that Julian would know his mother had caused him harm.
Expressing her remorse, Tiffany Kosakowski acknowledged that she would have to live with the guilt of causing her son’s disabling injuries. “I’ll have to live with this for the rest of my life,” she told the court. “All I care about is being there for my son as he recovers and supporting him every day as I have been doing.”
While some think there isn’t a better punishment for Tiffany Kosakowski than having to see the results of her actions every day for the rest of her life, we have to wonder how traumatic that could be for Julian. Can you imagine having to look into the eyes of the mother who is supposed to love you but nearly killed you — having to live the rest of your life at her mercy as you suffer the consequences of her actions and fear the next dangerous decision she might make?