Police said a 6-year-old Phoenix girl died early Thursday morning after her 8-year-old brother crashed their mother’s car after taking his younger sister on a joyride Wednesday night in South Phoenix.
The mother had bathed her children and put them to bed around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday evening, Martos said. The children’s grandmother, who lives nearby, saw her daughter’s front door open when she was driving home. She went in, woke up the children’s mother, and discovered the children were missing.
The two women went outside to talk to neighbors and discovered the children’s mother’s car – a 2010 Hyundai Elantra – was also gone. The car had been parked in the driveway, Martos said. The frantic mother called 911 around 10:25 p.m. and said she believed her children had been kidnapped.
Police said they received numerous 911 calls starting around 9:15 p.m. One caller said the car had struck a fence. Another followed the vehicle and said children were inside.
One man who followed the car for about 15 minutes, Phoenix resident Ruby De La Cruz, said the little boy could barely see over the dashboard.
"They were swerving into and out of traffic — into oncoming traffic — and, you know, the headlights weren't on, the windshield wipers were going crazy, so I knew they couldn't see too good with them going back and forth," De La Cruz told KPNX. "It was crazy."
"I (saw) the little boy's face, and when he saw me he looked scared, but he looked like, 'OK, I'm going to keep on going anyway,'" he said.
Believing the children had been kidnapped police tried pulling the vehicle over at around 10:30 p.m. , Martos said. The vehicle veered to the right and hit a pole.
Right before the crash, the boy "looked like he had freaked out" because "the cops had already turned on their lights to pull them over," De La Cruz said. "He went real quick to the right, but he hit the curb and swerved into the pole."
“This was one of those situations when the officers believed they were trying to rescue kids from a possible kidnapper,” Martos said.
Responding officers started life-saving measures until the fire department arrived. Both children were dressed in pajamas and the 6-year-old was not wearing a seat belt. The airbag did not deploy.
The mother, who walked to the scene of the accident which occurred only blocks from her home, discovered her children were in the car. Her daughter died around 4 a.m. Thursday in a local hospital and the 8-year-old boy was treated for minor injuries.
Martos said they do not know what prompted the 8-year old to take his mother’s car. They have not spoken to the boy but no criminal complaints are expected to be filed, he said.
"The mother indicated that she has never seen or known of the children taking the vehicle before," he said. "We don't know why this happened."