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Dash Cam: Police Pull Over 7-Year-Old Driver

Dash Cam: Police Pull Over 7-Year-Old Driver

Detroit Free Press via YellowBrix

June 23, 2011

CASEVILLE, MI – His stepfather and mom say they are just as dumbfounded as anyone else about why their 7-year-old took the car keys and went for a 20-mile ride trying to get to his biological father’s house.

Now, the boy, who was safely stopped by police Monday morning outside of Caseville — and found barefoot and in his pajamas in his stepfather’s red Pontiac Sunfire — faces a juvenile charge of unlawful use of an automobile in Huron County Probate Court.

Huron County Prosecutor Timothy Rutkowski said he filed the petition Wednesday in Huron County Family Court to try to help the boy.

“I filed the petition to get the young person into our family court system with the idea we would try to find out why the young man did what he allegedly did,” Rutkowski said, adding that the boy’s reasoning is still not clear to investigators. He said the investigation did not show anything startling in the boy’s home life that might explain why he took the car keys about 10 a.m. as his mother slept and drove off.

“He’s a really smart kid — he’s an intelligent kid,” the boy’s stepfather, David Marks, 32, said Wednesday afternoon, pausing outside their Sheridan Township home to try to find the words to explain, as the blond-haired boy leaned over the back of a couch to look out a window. "We’re a hardworking family; we’re good people. Just a bad thing happened.

“We want him to go into third grade as a third-grader, not with this hanging over him.”

Outside, Marks stood in the yard next to the Pontiac that police say the boy drove more than 60 m.p.h. Monday morning, determined to drive to his father’s house about 12 miles away in the Filion area.

Marks said that he and his wife, Nicole Lyn Marks, the boy’s mother, who didn’t want to talk to the Free Press, don’t understand the boy’s determination, especially because he sees his father regularly.

“Heck, he just spent all day Sunday with him,” Marks said, looking frustrated. “I don’t know.”

And they don’t know the answer to the question so many — including calls from as far away as Japan — have been asking: How did the boy learn to drive?

Sitting in the yard among a blue-and-white soccer ball, a basketball hoop and a black-and-white mountain bike, are two lawn tractors — the only other things even remotely resembling a car.

Marks said they plan to get counseling for the boy: “We’re working on it.”

The juvenile petition asks Judge David Clabuesch to order the boy and his parents to appear in family court within the next two weeks.

If the boy admits what he has done, the proceedings skip over the process to determine guilt and into a treatment phase, which could include counseling, Rutkowski said.

“Some people might not understand that,” he said. “Kids make mistakes all the time. If we can assist them so it doesn’t happen again and help them be a better person, that’s a very good thing.”

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