When Toby Lafave pulled over a vehicle that was driving erratically, he never expected to be so emotionally overwhelmed by the consequences. The woman was all over the place, but to make matters worse, there was a young child in the car. Then, as he looked in the trunk, Lafave wasn’t able to hold it together.
Toby Lafave is a police officer from Albuquerque, New Mexico. As part of his job, he was used to busting people for offenses such as driving while impaired by drugs or alcohol (DWI). But one day in October 2017 he encountered a situation like no other.
There was nothing particularly special about Lafave’s shift that night. He was on his usual patrol, heading down the interstate, when he first spotted a problem. There was something suspicious about another vehicle, and the officer wanted to investigate further.
The other car was a gold Cadillac, and the issue was that it was being driven erratically. Lafave noticed that the vehicle was dodging around other cars, changing lanes unnecessarily. Not only that, but it was also going at a considerable speed – 96 miles per house to be precise.
Lafave consequently made the decision to pull the vehicle over. The driver was female, and there was one passenger – a little girl. The thing that shocked the police officer initially was that the young child was not even wearing a seatbelt.
Considering how badly the driver had been steering the vehicle, Lafave was horrified that the child hadn’t even been strapped in. The police officer then asked the driver, a woman called Yvonne Ukestine, why she had been driving so erratically.
Ukestine responded by saying that she was “scared” of the freeway. Unconvinced by her answer, Lafave asked her to step away from the driving wheel. Ukestine found considerable difficulty in doing so, however, as she was reportedly intoxicated.
When Lafave was questioning Ukestine, in fact, she was having some serious trouble standing up straight. This prompted the police officer to carry out some sobriety tests on the driver, who had told Lafave that she’d spent the evening at a concert.
First, Lafave gauged Ukestine’s reactions with a quick eye test, followed by another task that involved asking her to stand where he was shining his torch light. But a police video of the incident shows Ukestine struggling to follow the simplest of instructions.
At one point, Ukestine bolted back to her car to check on the six-year-old girl who was still in the passenger seat. The intoxicated driver told the officer that she thought the child, who was her niece, was “scared” by the situation.
“Yeah, I’m sure she is [scared],” Lafave replied. “I’d be afraid, especially the way you were driving. I’d be afraid, too.” After that, the police officer had one more sobriety test for Ukestine. He asked her to walk in a straight line, following a painted strip on the highway.
However, Ukestine failed to complete the required task. She started counting aloud as she walked unsteadily, completely missing the point of Lafave’s request. At that point, the police officer was certain that Ukestine was unfit to be on the road, so there was only one thing that he could do.
Lafave then arrested the driver on the roadside, something that he’d done over 100 times before. But there was something different about this case that really got to him. The officer found himself becoming very emotional after arresting Ukestine, in fact.
That was because of something that Lafave found in the trunk of car. When he opened it up, he discovered a bunch of strollers in there. Thankfully, though, there had only been one child in serious danger that night – and she was about to be taken somewhere safe.
Lafave subsequently made a phone call in order to organize someone to collect Ukestine’s niece and take her home after her aunt’s arrest. But the emotion of the situation overcame him while he was speaking on the phone.
Lafave was unable to hold back the tears. “That makes my heart hurt,” he said, with his voice cracking. Then, when the little girl tried to be helpful and shut the car trunk for him, he kindly told her, “Hey baby, I’ll get it, I’ll get it.”
“God it breaks my heart,” Lafave croaked as he made his way back to his police vehicle. The thought of that little girl – and potentially other children – being in danger because of an irresponsible and intoxicated driver was clearly too much for the officer.
The video of Lafave’s emotional reaction to the traffic stop quickly caught the attention of local news stations, who reported on the incident. Thankfully though, Ukestine had been caught before she caused an accident and injured her innocent niece or anyone else out on the roads that night.
Ukestine was taken to the police station and charged with DWI, although she managed to orchestrate a plea deal. In addition, but the reckless driver also faced charges of child abuse. However, WFLA News reported that those proceedings were not going to continue.
Thankfully, tragedy was avoided that night thanks to Lafave’s sharp eye and professionalism. By taking Ukestine off the road, the police officer might even have saved a few lives. Not only that, but the emotional video will also make people think twice before getting behind the wheel after a few drinks.