A 4-year-old boy in Blaine, Minnesota, took his grandfather’s keys while he was not looking and drove to a local gas station because he was craving candy.
The boy, Sebastian, took his great-grandfather’s Hyundai Santa Fe on an erratic journey early on June 11 to a speedway about a mile-and-a-half away from his family home, Fox 9 reported.
Sebastian’s mother Jenna Swenson told the news station how she felt at the time: “Panic, anxiety. A little of almost all the emotions going on … trying to calculate what happened.”
According to Fox 9, the keys to the SUV were suspended high above the 4-year-old on a hook mounted to a wall. But Sebastian simply used great-grandpa Roy’s walker to climb up and grab them and, before long, he took off with the vehicle at about 8:30 a.m.
The 4-year-old managed to back the SUV out of the driveway and transport himself down some residential streets before turning onto a four-lane roadway—University Avenue.
His great-grandpa said Sebastian is an observant child.
“He watches everything people do and he’ll repeat it,” Roy Becker told Fox 9. “It could’ve been very serious. He could’ve hit a car. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt. We could be talking about a funeral.”
— FOX 9 (@FOX9) June 13, 2019
Citing witnesses, the news station reported that Sebastian drove along University Avenue around 10-15 mph and arrived in one piece at the parking lot of a gas station.
One woman commented on social media that the gas station Sebastian arrived at was the one that her husband manages. According to Crystal Marie, a bus driver had witnessed the boy as he entered University Ave. and notified police, who responded soon after the call.
“I’ve never seen a driver this young before operating a vehicle,” Capt. Mark Boerboom from the Blaine Police Department told Fox 9.
The SUV hit a tree and some mailboxes. Fox 9 reporters said they found part of the SUV’s bumper at a neighbor’s house.
Father Leads 3-Year-Old Boy to Drive Construction Vehicle on Public Road
In other related news involving young boys driving, two reports recently emerged from China involving fathers letting their sons drive on public roads.
The first incident was reported in April when video footage was captured showing a father letting his 3-year-old son drive a large construction vehicle on a public road in China’s Lishui City.
The father, Zhu, 46, owns a business that sells excavators in Zhejiang Province, China. His son is often around the heavy machinery.
“[My son is] able to operate it, I thought that if I stood next to and watched over him, it wouldn’t be a problem,” Zhu said, according to the Qianjiang Evening News.
People on the street reportedly told Zhu to make his son stop, for everyone’s safety. At first, Zhu ignored their pleas, but eventually he listened and agreed.
Zhu was later detained, and luckily no one was injured, nor any property damaged.
The second incident came in May, when a father in the Chinese city of Mianyang in Sichuan Province was seen blocking traffic on a busy public road—so that his 1-year-old son could drive his toy car.
The father and son were blocking the lanes, giving other cars no other choice to pass unless they drove around them, where traffic was in the opposite direction.
After a police investigation, the father, Guo, said he wanted his son to practice driving, according to KNews.
“I was driving and I was remotely controlling [his car],” Guo said to traffic police.
The police reportedly gave Guo a “critical education,” which is the equivalent of a loud-spoken slap on the wrist, or simply a warning. They also gave him a 200 yuan ($30) fine, according to major Chinese online news outlet KNews.
Traffic police also removed two of Guo’s driving points, a system of punishment used for drivers in China. Each driver has 12 points for a period of time, and if all of them are lost, then the person must attend driver’s school.