COOPERTOWN, Tenn. -- Deputies said five children were seen coming out of the back of a U-Haul after a woman pulled into a Mapco in Coopertown. The children range in age from 4 to 13 years old. Three more unrestrained children were riding in the front with Quiana Deberry; the youngest was 11 months old. "No ventilation, no way for them to communicate with the people in front if there was a problem,” said Coopertown Police Department Chief Jessie Burchwell. “There were all sorts of dangers: If they turned over, there's heat, if they rolled over; all sorts of things."
A concerned citizen saw the children climbing out of the back of the truck.
"I just pray and hope the kids are OK," said Robertson County resident Courtney Terry. "She should have thought about those kids. That was very unsafe: She could have had a wreck; they could have suffocated."
Police said Deberry, 29, was moving with her eight children from Georgia to Illinois. She is behind bars on a $100,000 bond Thursday afternoon, and she faces five counts of reckless endangerment of a child.
The children -- some her own, some her nieces and nephews -- were fed and put up in a hotel with an 18-year-old family member for the night before being turned over to the Department of Children's Services.
"Any case dealing with children is hard for officers to deal with,” said Burchwell. “That's why the officers went out of way to make sure they had something to eat and … make sure they were safe."
Their grandmother and other family members traveled from Chicago to pick them up.