Roles reversed last week when a girl took the wheel of her father’s car.
The stakes were much higher than driving lessons, however: the seven-year-old’s father, Eric Roman, was in the throes of an opioid overdose.
That’s when, police sources told the Daily News, the girl climbed into her 37-year-old father’s lap and steered the car to safety. She took over the Lexus on Thursday during rush hour — and that’s when some emergency medical technicians (EMTs) noticed her.
“We turned with the car and saw this little girl behind the wheel,” EMT Arlene Garcia told the Daily News.
And then, Garcia says her maternal instincts kicked in.
“I’m a mom, so I was freaking out. I started yelling at her to pull over and stop the car.”
As with many kids, the little girl didn’t immediately follow instructions.
We were turning with her, telling her to pull over, waving our arms wildly at her, but she wasn’t pulling over,” Garcia added.
That’s when Garcia and her colleague Charles Zimring realized that the girl — who seemed small for her age, Garcia said — couldn’t reach the pedals.
So they got creative.
“We said to ourselves, ‘How do you stop her?’ So we pulled right in front of her with the ambulance and that’s how we stopped it,” she recounted.
It was after they averted an accident that Garcia and Zimring saw the real disaster. “When we asked her what happened, she said ‘My dad was sleeping so I was going to finish driving him home,’” Garcia said.
The girl’s father was immediately taken to a Brooklyn hospital and treated with Naloxone, an opioid antidote. As of Friday, the Daily News reported, Roman remained hospitalized.
This marks just the latest case of opioid overdosing in New York City — a trend which the New York Police Department (NYPD) has increased drastically over the past couple years: indeed, the NYPD is investigating 1,370 suspected opioid deaths from 2016, a 46 percent increase from 2015.