A La Crosse man was charged Thursday with physical abuse of a child after a 12-year-old fell out of his vehicle and ended up in the hospital with serious injuries.

Thomas J. Hook, 41, was driving the 12-year-old to go fishing Sept. 28 along with two other children, according to the criminal complaint.

Hook let the child sit with his body hanging out the vehicle’s window while he was driving 20 mph down Fishermans Road in La Crosse, then hit a bump, causing the boy to fall. One of the other boys described seeing the child push backward to avoid the vehicle, then hit the ground and roll several times, according to the complaint.

Hook and another boy got the child back in the vehicle and took him to the hospital. The boy was transported to the hospital with a brain bleed and multiple broken bones in his face, including a nasal, orbital and jawbone fracture, as well as multiple abrasions.

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Hook originally told the boy’s mother that the vehicle’s door accidentally opened due to a faulty door handle, but he later admitted to police that wasn’t true, according to the complaint. He said the incident was a result of “typical guys doing dumb (expletive)” and talked about him doing stupid things when he was that age without getting hurt. Hook, who is out on a signature bond, was charged with physical abuse of a child. He faces up to 3½ years in prison if convicted.

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Jourdan Vian is a reporter and columnist covering crime and courts for the La Crosse Tribune. You can contact her at 608-791-8218 or jvian@lacrossetribune.com.

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