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kid driverPHOENIX, AZ –  A panic-stricken mom who thought her children had been kidnapped got an even worse surprise when she discovered her 8-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter had taken her car on a joyride – before getting into an accident in which the little girl was killed.

Half an hour after giving her son and daughter a bath and putting them to bed, the woman noticed that they were missing, along with  her 2010 Hyundai Elantra. Her front door was open, as well. She began knocking on her neighbors’ doors and called police.

As it turned out, police received at least two 911 calls just a few minutes earlier from witnesses who reported seeing the car driving in the area. One caller told police that the car had struck a fence, then driven off. Another said it looked like the car was being driven by a child. Responding officers spotted the vehicle “almost instantly” after police turned on their emergency lights, Sgt. Steve Martos said.

The police cars did not have their sirens on, he said. When they tried to pull it over, it swerved to the right and crashed into a pole.

After the crash, patrol officers ran up to the car, “thinking it’s a kidnap, that there’s a bad guy in there,” Martos said. What they found was something else entirely. Two young children-wearing their pajamas-with the girl  critically injured. The girl, Aaliyah Felder, died as a result of injuries she sustained early Thursday. Police said that her seatbelt wasn’t fastened and the passenger side air bag did not deploy. The boy suffered only a minor ankle injury.

The mother, noticing police activity only a block from the apartment complex where they lived, ran over to see what was going on. “It was a horrible and tragic moment for her,” said Martos. Could be the understatement of the year.

Sgt. Steve Martos said the investigation into the crash was continuing, and that police didn’t know all of the details about what happened, including what prompted the youngsters to go on the drive or how they got hold of the car keys. Good thing cops didn’t find a copy of Grand Theft Auto in the kids’ PlayStation, probably saved the mother a bullet.

Police didn’t release the names of the mother, 24, or the girl’s brother, who investigators did not speak to.  “We want to wait,” Martos told reporters, though he added, “It doesn’t appear that we’re looking at it from a criminal standpoint.”

Authorities believe the children drove south about 3 miles from their home and then backtracked, according to Martos. He said there was no immediate indication that the officers did anything wrong. Not that that’ll keep some
folks from bitching.

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