Driving lesson

9-year-old Mini Cooper drives pursuing soldiers in North Carolina

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — A spooky situation in Knightdale had a relatively happy ending Thursday after police said a 9-year-old boy led them on a short chase after taking his sister’s car. Although this is technically a police chase, police say it’s not what you imagine.

“Maybe it was a pursuit by definition, and that alone,” said Chris Knox of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.

Although police say this was not a typical chase, it was still a scary situation.

“I got a phone call saying my 9-year-old autistic son had taken my daughter’s car,” said the boy’s mother, who did not want his name used.

The boy drove off from his home before family and caretakers called 911, telling them the child’s age and that he had special needs. According to police, with this information, they handled this chase very differently from most others, with the sole purpose of protecting the child and other drivers.

“Intrinsically, we know this is a dangerous situation,” Knox said. “Because a 9-year-old child does not have the training, the know-how to drive a vehicle.”

After about a minute and a half of chasing, police were able to block the car in a grassy area before making sure the boy was safe.

“They were able to gain access to him, get him out immediately, comfort him, give him a hug and let him know that everything is fine,” Knox said.

(CBS 17/Darran Todd)

The boy’s mother says other parents, especially those of autistic children, should use this as a lesson to take extra steps to keep them safe.

“Keys are another thing we need to be aware of,” she said. “He could have killed someone driving that car, he could have killed himself, and that’s a lot to think about.”

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We’re told that when the boy left his home he was there with his therapist, but his mum says she’s not sure what prompted him to get in the car and leave. He was treated at a local hospital for minor injuries before police said he would be released to his family.