Man Gets Prison in Wife’s Wild Trip on Car Hood

Times Staff Writer

A retired airline pilot who sped down the San Diego Freeway at 80 m.p.h. last year with his estranged wife clinging to the hood of his car was sentenced Thursday to six years in state prison.

Torrance Superior Court Judge William C. Beverly Jr. imposed the maximum penalty on Russell A. Jobst, 44, who pleaded guilty last month to child endangerment and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon.

Jobst drove off with his 19-month-old son on Aug. 17, 1987, as his wife, Madonna Kennedy-Jobst, hung onto the car.


Jobst told the judge that he was remorseful and promised that he “would not harm Madonna in any way, shape or form,” if he was spared a prison term.

But Beverly said the aggravating circumstances outweighed Jobst’s good behavior in jail, his solid record as a Navy helicopter pilot and his apparent belief that a Hawaiian court order gave him custody of the boy during a divorce and custody dispute.

“What can’t be sympathized with is his response to this situation,” Beverly said. “When he reacted the way that he did, he endangered the life of his son, his estranged wife and everyone around him.”

Kennedy-Jobst, 37, testified at the sentencing.

“This is not the first time that Russell has been violent,” she said, as her husband sat an arm’s length away. “It is simply the most recent and the most public. He has an inability to deal with anger.”

Jobst will be eligible for parole after about two years and two months in prison, if he receives the maximum time off for work and good behavior, a state Department of Corrections official said.

The former United Airlines pilot has already served 14 months in County Jail, since he was arrested for the high-speed confrontation with his wife, a native of Australia who works as a flight attendant.


The incident began when Jobst, who was living in Hawaii, went to his estranged wife’s Torrance home in an attempt to take custody of the couple’s son, Toby.

Clings to Hood

When a neighbor told Kennedy-Jobst that a man was about to drive off with her boy, she jumped onto the hood of Jobst’s rented car, locked her feet on either side of the windshield and held tight.

She said she would not let go until she got her son back. And she didn’t.

Police said it was a miracle that Kennedy-Jobst was able to hold on as her husband alternately accelerated and slammed on his brakes--first on the streets of Torrance and then on the San Diego Freeway.

Kennedy-Jobst said her son was sitting unrestrained in the front seat of the car during the wild 30-minute ride. She said she kept smiling so the boy, who could see her through the windshield, would not be frightened.

Tire Punctured

The drive ended when his effort to plow his wife into a cactus resulted in a punctured tire, police said.

Before sentencing, defense attorney Arnold Notkoff said his client had not abused his wife and that the assault was a “domestic situation that got out of hand.” He argued that Jobst had spent enough time in jail and should be sentenced to probation.


Kennedy-Jobst said she was “relieved” that her husband would be sent to prison. “But I’m not happy,” she said. “When it’s a family dispute, there are no winners.”