Slipping out unnoticed past midnight when mother was sleep, a 7-year-old child of Stuttgart decided to go pay her cousin a visit in the middle of the night on Saturday.
While unusual, law enforcement officials across the nation have caught children driving alone, such as when an 8-year-old boy who learned to drive watching YouTube, took his father’s car and drove himself and his younger sister to a McDonald’s near their Ohio home because they were craving cheeseburgers.
The most viral incident happened Monday when a 5-year-old snuck out the house while his parents were at work under the supervision of his 16-year-old sister.
When she fell asleep, he snuck out and was pulled over by Utah Highway Patrol Trooper Rick Morgan, after seeing a swerving SUV on the interstate.
No charges were pressed against the parents or the 5-year-old.
According to the trooper, the 5-year-old said he was on his way to California to go buy him a Lamborghini with $3 in his pocket because his mom wouldn’t.
The Stuttgart 7-year-old said she was going to pick up her cousin in North Hills off Buerkle Street, who is also seven.
“My cousin had said can you come get me so I said ok I’m going to get momma’s keys and get ready to come,” said the 7-year-old. “I got in momma’s car, started the car and drove.”
Remembering the route her mother drives to get to the house, the 7-year old drove from 10th Street, down Park Avenue and over the overpass onto US highway 63.
According to the 7-year-old, she made sure she stopped at all the stop signs.
When she arrived to her cousin’s house she said she put the car in park and knocked on the door.
“No one answered so I got back in the car to leave and go home,” said the 7-year-old. “I forgot I had the car in park so I pushed the shifter and it wouldn’t go because I didn’t have my foot on the thing (referring to the brakes).”
Car noises alarmed her uncle and aunt who came to the door and realized their niece had driven the car to their house.
“They took me in and then my uncle took me to my house,” said the 7-year-old who admits she was going to go home and tell her mom what she had done.
“I was like wow this is my first time driving,” said the 7-year-old. “I was right by a car and I backed straight out and didn’t hit anything.”
The 7-year-old said she learned how to drive by playing a video game called Cruiser, a cruiser simulator game that she plays often.
Meanwhile still sleeping, the mother said she had no idea her child was gone until her dad came over.
“I thought she was in her room sleep,” said the mother.
The mother said when she realized her child wasn’t in her room, her front door was opened and her car was gone, her heart dropped.
“I cried and I cried about what happened,” said the mother, whose sister died in 2009 in a fatal car accident. “I cried about what didn’t happen to my baby and I cried about what could have happened to my baby.”
According to Stuttgart Chief of Police Mark Duke, in a worst case scenario, everything would fall back on the parents and CPS would be called.
In the 5-year-old’s case in Utah, it was reported by ABC news that Weber County Prosecutor Chris Allred stated two seconds was all it took to decide that the parents would not be facing charges for their son’s actions.
“I don’t know if it’s possible but we’re not about to charge a 5-year-old for something like that,” Allred said. “I don’t think a 5-year-old is mentally capable of making decisions for which he can be held legally accountable.”
While you would think the unimaginable would not happen in Stuttgart, Duke advises parents to still take the necessary precautions to prevent something like this from happening.
“I would tell parents to put their keys up and put buzzers on their doors,” said Duke.
Allred stated in the interview with ABC news that there’s some real danger of a small child getting keys into their hands and doing something like this.
“That it’s not something that most people are thinking about,” said Allred.
The 7-year-old admits what she did was wrong and was very apologetic for her actions. She said she had her phone disconnected and taken away and she is grounded.
“I told my momma I’m sorry twelve hundred million times,” she said.
When asked what message would she give to other boys and girls she stated, “Never do anything without your parents’ permission.”
While her mom can look at this incident now and sort of giggle about her child’s impressive driving skills, she is also thankful that God covered her child and protected her.
“Anything could have happened to her that night. She could have been kidnapped or I could have been burying my child for Mother’s Day,” said the mother. “I really think my sister and God were with my baby. God had my baby covered that night.”