A Yelm man was in jail Thursday after Fife police said he left his two young daughters alone in a parked semitrailer while he gambled at the Emerald Queen Casino for more than five hours.
The girls, ages 4 and 5, were found after they started honking the truck’s horns.
Terry Jonason, 34, was arrested and booked for investigation of misdemeanor reckless endangerment. He pleaded not guilty during an appearance in Fife Municipal Court and was ordered held in lieu of $5,000 bail. He also faces a hold from the state Department of Corrections in connection with a 2009 conviction for possession of stolen property.
The girls were found Wednesday in the cab of the truck parked at a motel across the street from the casino. They were in good condition, but showed signs they had been left alone and unattended for several hours, police Lt. Tom Thompson said.
“They’d been in there awhile,” he said. “They’d soiled their pants.”
Both girls were released to their grandmother, who lives in Spanaway, and were expected to be reunited with their mother Thursday.
Mark Woodske, a guest at the motel where the girls were found, said he first heard two horns from the truck honking about 10:30 or 11 a.m. He said he looked inside the truck and saw the two girls, but at first thought they must be there with a parent.
“I figured someone was in there sleeping, someone just needed a rest, and the girls were playing around,” Woodske said. “But no one got them to stop (honking the horns.)”
When Woodske heard the horns honking again about 4 p.m., he and his girlfriend went to the truck again to check it out.
“So I said, ‘Go over and knock on the cab. Maybe he’s sleeping, go pound on the cab,’ ” Woodske said. “She came back, (said there was) no response and I said, ‘Go call the police.’ ”
Police responded, and as officers investigated, Jonason came running from the casino.
Jonason is a driver for his father’s trucking company, based in Spanaway, and was in Fife for repairs to his truck, Thompson said. When he was unable to get the truck into the shop for the repairs, he decided to spend some time gambling at the casino, Thompson said.
“He claimed that he’d only been there for about an hour, which is still an hour too long as far as I’m concerned,” Thompson said.
Woodske, who was visiting Fife from Vancouver, B.C., said he has kids as well, and was shocked a father would leave girls that young alone for such a long time.
“A 4-year-old (and) a 5-year-old? You don’t do that,” Woodske said.