Map: 19th Avenue, north of I-17
PHOENIX – A 6-year-old girl is dead after her 8-year-old brother apparently took her for a joyride, leaving their mother at home to think they had been kidnapped.
According to the Phoenix Police Department, the mom put the kids to bed at about 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.
The kids' grandmother was passing by the home a short time later and noticed that the door was wide open. Frantic, mom and grandma went door to door, looking for the kids. That's when they noticed the mom's car was gone, as well. The mother immediately called 911, believing somebody had snatched her children.
"My two kids are missing and so is my car," the panicked mom told the 911 operator. "My son is 8. My daughter is 6."
At about the same time, 911 calls were coming in about a hit-and-run crash and a car that was possibly being driven by a child.
"I'm headed south on 19th Avenue now, but they're in a red car and it looks like two little kids and they're driving, like, recklessly. They're all over the lanes, not stopping," a man told a 911 operator. "It looks like they've already hit a few thing actually. The bumper is messed up. There is like scratches on the back."
The kids covered about three miles on 19th Avenue before turning around.
Sgt. Steve Martos of the Phoenix Police Department said officers caught up with the vehicle near 19th Avenue just north of Interstate 17. Those officers tried to stop the car, believing that the kids might have been kidnapped.
"The vehicle veered to the right and collided with a pole," Martos said.
That's when officers discovered the 8-year-old was behind the wheel, his little sister in the passenger seat. Both were still in their pajamas.
Police said the little girl was not wearing a seat belt and the passenger-side air bag did not deploy.
Martos said the kids' mom saw the police activity just down the street, about a quarter of a mile from her home.
"[She] ran out and was here when we discovered that it was her two children that were involved in this collision," Martos said.
The 8-year-old suffered minor injuries. His little sister, family members told 3TV her name is Aliyah, later died at a local hospital.
"I don't know how to describe it other than it's got to be a traumatic event for her," Martos said when 3TV's Jill Galus asked him about the mother. "First believing that her children were kidnapped, then to discover that it was her 8-year-old son who took this vehicle and now her 6-year-old daughter was involved in this fatal collision -- extremely traumatic for her."
Because they have not been able to talk to the little boy, investigators do not know what prompted him to take his mom's car or where he might have been taking his sister.
Police said this incident is a good reminder to hide their car keys from curious kids.