A grieving mother used the occasion of her son’s death while fleeing police to send a stern warning to other young adults who think it is “cool” to live their lives as criminals.
Terica Charles lost her 24-year-old son Charles Baker in the early hours of March 26 when he drove a stolen motorcycle off the side of the International Speedway Boulevard Bridge outside Daytona, Florida, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.
But really, Charles had been losing her son day by day starting when he turned 11.
“My son has been in and out of programs and getting in trouble for so long that he has not had a birthday at home since he was 11 years old,” Charles said in a tearful 20-minute Facebook video, which has since gone viral.
WARNING: The video below contains profanity
“Anybody who knows me knows that I have been there for my son, I have done everything I could for my son, told my son that the way he was going wasn’t gonna, you know, get him anywhere but jail or hell,” Charles stated. “I have preached to Rodney over and over and over again, I have begged with him, pleaded with him, to just get himself together because I didn’t want to see this day come.”
When that day did come, Charles decided not to keep her grief within, but to let the wisdom she had gained through years of suffering come out, to help the parents and children in situations similar to her own.
Her message to the children was simple, “I am sending this message out here hoping that one of y’all that are in his age group, younger, older—will see how short life really is. Maybe you’ll see that you could be here today and gone tomorrow.”
To the parents, her message was crystal clear, “We as parents gotta stop supporting our kids when we know our children are doing wrong.”
Bad Choices and Harsh Penalties
Baker, 24, was speeding down the road on a stolen motorcycle when police tried to pull him over.
Baker, knowing he would be headed back to jail, decided to flee. While crossing the bridge over the Halifax River, he lost control, crashed through the railing, and smashed himself on the rocks below.
Charles went to the scene, wailing in anguish at the sight of the wreckage strewn across the rocks. Plainly her son’s death hurt her deeply.
But Charles wasn’t about to blame the police. She knew that the blame rested fully on her son.
“My son was determined to do what he wanted to do,” she stated firmly.
She let the pain of losing her son motivate her to reach out to both the unruly children who might one day end up like Rodney and the parents who sometimes let their children run wild.
To the children, she said, “I need all y’all young men and women out there that thinks it’s ‘cool’ to put police on these high-speed chases, Stop thinking about yourself for just a minute. …
“Y’all need to be thinking about the fact that there are innocent bystanders out here that could get hurt in the pursuit of You trying to get away from the police because you don’t want to go to jail, because you don’t want to face the action, or face the consequences of your actions. If you weren’t breaking the law the police wouldn’t be following you in the first place.”
‘We Have to Stop Blaming the Police When our Children Are Doing Wrong’
Charles adamantly refused to blame the police officers involved, for any aspect of her son’s death.
“My son died in an accident where he was fleeing police because he did not have a driver’s license and he was on a stolen motorcycle,” she said forcefully.
“We as parents gotta stop supporting our kids when we know our children are doing wrong,” she said in her Facebook post.
Charles mentioned the parents who go to the police station after their teenage child was arrested and protest, “My child is a minor and y’all questioned my child illegally, and an adult should have been there. That child should never have been doing something to get arrested in the first place, Charles said.
“We have to stop blaming the police when our children are doing wrong. A huge part of the problem is that we got so many parents out here that are making these kids feel like we got their back in every situation. …
“Yeah, I got my child’s back in any situation that happens with them, but I know when they’re wrong that there are consequences that they have to face.”
Charles ended her Facebook post with a prayer and a plea:
“I am sharing this message because I am hoping that it will make a difference to somebody, somebody will say, ‘You know what, I don’t want to end up like Rodney. I don’t want my mother crying like Terica Charles was on Facebook.’”
Terica Charles has set up a GoFundMe Page to help raise funds for her son’s funeral.