A 7-year-old pajama-clad Michigan boy who drove a car for 20 miles, sometimes hitting speeds of 50 mph, was charged Wednesday with unlawful use of a vehicle.
Huron County Prosecutor Tim Rutkowski said he filed the juvenile charge "strictly" to get the boy and his family some assistance, such as counseling. He said he would not seek to have the boy removed from his home.
"What is it in this child's life that's stressing him that he leaves in a vehicle? What we don't want is to let this happen again," Rutkowski said. "There's something going on in his life."
The boy told authorities that he drove off in his stepfather's car Monday to see his father, who also lives in Huron County, 110 miles north of Detroit. The boy reached speeds of at least 50 mph before police caught up with him. He stopped the car on a rural road where the speed limit was 55.
"He was crying and just kept saying he wanted to go to his dad's," Caseville Police Chief Jamie Learman said. "That was pretty much it. He just wanted to go to his dad's."
Police began looking for the Pontiac Sunfire around 10:15 a.m. after someone called about a very young driver. The boy's mother had worked the night shift and was unaware her son and the car were gone.
Learman told the Detroit Free Press he feared the boy would crash as the car veered to the right and fishtailed.
"When that happened, he seemed to be increasing his speeds," Learman said.
The chief sped ahead and tried to box-in the Sunfire with the help of a sheriff's deputy who was behind in another vehicle.
"I slowed down, he slowed down and eventually stopped," Learman said.
He said he's seen drivers under 15 but not someone this young.
"I'm just glad he didn't get hurt, and no one else got hurt," Learman said. "I can just imagine the stop signs and other things he didn't stop for. I'm just assuming a 7-year-old didn't follow the traffic laws."