"I thought he was going to beeline over there and into the water," Roder said.
Roder had just taught his 5-year-old son Aidan how to unbuckle his own seatbelt and get out of the car himself. Aidan took the lesson to heart last Thursday, when he hopped out of his dad's car when he was trying to decide on a parking spot. Aidan headed for the Rahway River, where the two had planned to skip rocks and look for ducks.
"I panicked and grabbed the windshield washer thing and thought it was the gear for park and here we are," he said.
In Roder's panic over Aidan's safety, he had left the car in drive. When he caught up with his son, Aidan had a strange look on his face.
"Uh, Daddy, the Jeep is falling down the hill," Aidan said.
The SUV rolled into the Rahway River. Roder was grateful there weren't any fisherman by the shore.
When Union County police showed up to the park and saw the Jeep in the water, Roder expected they'd help him out. But first, he was issued two tickets -- one for failing to use the emergency brake and another for failing to produce his insurance card. The card was soaked, locked in the waterlogged truck.
"If you're a father, you're going to grab your kid. Your car can roll off wherever," Roder said.
Roder wonders if the officers could have been more understanding, that he was only trying to save his son. Roder is grateful for his safety, and for the decision he made that morning not to take his newborn baby Joel with him on the trip because he could have been trapped inside the car.
A spokesman for Union County police says the officer was following protocol and that it's too late to take back the tickets once they're written. Frank will have to fight the $110 in fines in court.