A kid stealing a car and speeding around town and on the highway may seem like something out of an action movie or a video game, but a very real joyride happened just south of the Michigan border last month. According to USA Today, on October 26, 2017, a 10-year old from northern Ohio lead police from multiple departments as well as state highway troopers on a high speed chase through his town and eventually onto the Ohio Turnpike in a stolen vehicle.
The boy had stolen his mom’s 2004 Toyota Avalon, and began driving it through his neighborhood in Westlake, Ohio. A police officer saw the boy go speeding by at around 9:30 AM, and was being chased by another vehicle that was driven by the boy’s mother. Police were also tipped off to the joyride by two 911 calls. One caller reported the vehicle swerving in and out of lanes and running other vehicles off the road. A second caller said the boy appeared to be traveling at speeds of 90 mph or higher.
Two other police vehicles began chasing the boy, following him for about 15 miles. They tried to stop him from entering the interstate, but failed. Once he entered the interstate, he drove through a toll both on the Ohio Turnpike, at which point 4 other police vehicles joined the chase. The police vehicles formed a moving road block, in order to the slow the boy down, who at the point was reaching speeds of 100 MPH. The chase on the interstate lasted about 20 miles, before the boy eventually pulled over into a grassy area. A police vehicle gently bumped up against the boy’s vehicle in order to prevent him from reentering the highway. Reportedly, police motioned to the boy to pull over several times, which he responded to by shaking his head no. Luckily, no was injured in the chase.
WKYC reported that once the boy finally pulled over, he was taken first to a hospital, and then placed in the custody of Erie County Children’s Services. The boy was reportedly very combative with police, kicking and spitting at officers once he had pulled over. Remarkably, this is the second time in only two weeks that he has taken one of his parent’s cars for a joyride. On October 16, 2017, he stole a Dodge Charger and lead police on a very similar chase. Currently, police are speaking with the Erie County Prosecutor’s Office about criminal charges.
The boy is not the only one who could be facing criminal charges. While laws vary by state, the boy’s parents could be held responsible for his actions to some degree. If this situation took place in Michigan, according to Michigan law, the parent only faces criminal charges if they were involved in a child’s “bad act,” or if they had knowledge the child was planning to commit a bad act. In 2003, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled “parents may be held liable for failing to exercise the control necessary to prevent their children from intentionally harming others if they know or have reason to know of the necessity and opportunity for doing so.” More so, parents of a child who commits a crime may have to pay for any damages they caused if they child is unable to pay for them.
Joyrides such as this one may sound far fetched, but they do need to be taken seriously. While statistics on underage kids taking cars for joyrides are unavailable, it only takes a quick Google search to know that they do happen, and that they can be extremely dangerous. Parents need to ensure that their car keys are never left out in the open for children to take, as well as make sure their kids know how dangerous it is for them to operate a car. It may sound like something that could never happen to you or your child, but cars are fancy, secretive objects that can be very appealing for a child to try and get their hands on. Once behind the wheel however, a child's lack of experience in driving, a lack of education in road rules, and shorter stature may lead to the child causing a car accident.
A child speeding down the highway is never something a driver expects to see, much less knows how to respond to. Highways are dangerous enough for the most seasoned driver, and having a child driver only increases the risk of a car crash happening. If you have been involved in an automobile accident, call The Michigan Law Firm, PLLC at 844.4MI.FIRM for a free legal consultation.