Bridge-walkers charged with child endangerment


Two women who went for a walk on a railroad bridge with their children two weeks ago are now facing charges as a result of that incident.

Laura S. Oneal, 43, and Samantha J. Rokes, 30, both of Fort Dodge, are each charged with one count of child endangerment.

On March 20, at 2:09 p.m., the pair, along with four children, allegedly walked onto a railroad trestle bridge owned by the Union Pacific Railroad. The bridge spans the Des Moines River.

“There was no safe walkway, and the railway was in service at the time,” according to the criminal complaint, filed with the Webster County attorney’s office. “The children were not secured and were at risk for several harmful incidents.”

The complaint also stated that both Oneal and Rokes “knowingly place(d) four children in danger” by taking them onto the bridge.

When the Fort Dodge Police Department arrived at the scene, the women and children returned to the east bank of the river, FDPD Lt. Matt Wilson said at the time of the incident.

Because the railroad trestle is private property, the pair were also charged with trespassing.

The child endangerment warrants were served on Oneal and Rokes Thursday morning, shortly before their appearances in Webster County Magistrate Court.

At their initial appearances, Magistrate William Habhab allowed both women to be released on their own recognizance and sent the child endangerment cases to Webster County District Court to await scheduling.

Action on the trespassing cases will be continued until the child endangerment cases have been resolved.