Cops: 9-Year-Old Tried to Drive to School

He led CHP officer on 'short and erratic chase' after taking family car
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2024 11:20 AM CDT
Cops: 9-Year-Old Tried to Drive to School
The CHP released this photo of the two vehicles.   (CHP-Oroville)

California Highway Patrol officers in Oroville say that after a driver led an officer on a short chase Wednesday morning, he told him, "I'm sorry, I'm trying to get to school." The 9-year-old behind the wheel had taken the keys to the family car, NBC News reports. In a Facebook post titled "Another Episode of You Can't Make This Up," the CHP said the officer "encountered a gray Volkswagen sedan stopped oddly in the middle of the intersection. When instructed to move, the vehicle unexpectedly sped off, leading to a short and erratic chase that ended in a dirt parking lot just east of Plumas Avenue Elementary School."

After stopping, the driver reversed, "ramming the officer's patrol car in a moment that could have led to a grave outcome," the CHP said. But nobody was injured and there was only minor damage to both vehicles. Officer Terry Dunn told KNVN he saw a "little head" in the vehicle, "which turned out to be a 9-year-old child, sticking his head out and saying, 'I'm sorry, I'm trying to get to school." Dunn said the school's principal was contacted and "several other officers showed up on the scene just to see it was a 9-year-old driving the car." The CHP said the child "was safely sent to school after the necessary authorities were alerted and the situation was documented."

"Let's use this unusual event as a catalyst for conversations about safety, responsibility, and the importance of adhering to our community's driving laws," the CHP said. Dunn said parents should keep their car keys out of reach and talk to their kids about "the dangers of driving a vehicle and what could possibly happen." The boy's grandmother told CBS13 that the boy was "impatient" to get to school and took off in the car while his mom was in the bathroom, leading to "pure panic" when she discovered he was gone. The grandmother said the family isn't taking this lightly and the boy has apologized over and over. (More California Highway Patrol stories.)

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