PHOENIX — Half an hour after putting her two children to bed, a Phoenix mother discovered they were gone. Frantic and fearful they had been kidnapped, she called police, who spotted her car near her apartment and tried to pull it over.
After it swerved and crashed into a pole, police discovered the driver was the woman’s eight-year-old son, and her six-year-old daughter was a front-seat passenger.
The girl died yesterday of injuries suffered in the Wednesday night crash, while her brother suffered an ankle injury that didn’t appear serious, police said.
Police identified the girl as Aaliyah Felder. They said her seatbelt wasn’t fastened and the air bag in front of her didn’t deploy.
Police did not release the names of the 24-year-old mother or her son.
Sergeant Steve Martos said police did not know some details about what happened, including what prompted the children to go on the drive and how they got the car keys.
Police have not spoken to the boy at length so they don’t know why he was out driving the family car.
“There’s really no criminal element to any of it,” Martos said. “From mom’s standpoint, there’s nothing to indicate any neglect or abuse. From the kid’s point, he’s eight years old so his mental state is not culpable.”
After the crash, two patrol officers ran up to the crashed car, “thinking it’s a kidnap, that there’s a bad guy in there”, Martos said.
Instead, they found the children in their pyjamas and the girl seriously injured.
The crash occurred only a block from the apartment complex where the family lived, and the mother ran over after seeing the police activity.
She was visibly distraught after discovering the car and children belonged to her, according to Martos.
“It was a horrible and tragic moment for her,” he said. (AP)