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9-year-old driver leads California police on short chase

The California Highway Patrol said officers were surprised to find the child behind the wheel after the incident in Oroville. No one was hurt.
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Police in Northern California briefly chased a Volkswagen that sped away during a traffic incident Wednesday — and were surprised to find a 9-year-old boy behind the wheel, authorities said.

No one was hurt in the incident in Oroville, a city of around 20,000 in a valley near the Sierra Nevada mountains around 60 miles north of Sacramento, the California Highway Patrol said.

The incident began around 9:20 a.m. when the sedan was found “stopped oddly in the middle of the intersection,” the CHP said in a statement.

“When instructed to move, the vehicle unexpectedly sped off, leading to a short and erratic chase that ended in a dirt parking lot just east of Plumas Avenue Elementary School,” the highway patrol said.

After the vehicle stopped, it reversed and ran into the patrol car, the agency said, but there was only minor damage.

But once it was stopped, the driver was found to be a 9-year-old child who took the car in an attempt to drive to school, the agency said.

“We are relieved to report that no one was injured in this incident. The child was safely sent to school after the necessary authorities were alerted and the situation was documented,” the patrol said.

car chase 9-years old child driver california
Police stopped a car that was being driven by a 9-year-old in Oroville, Calif., on Wednesday.CHP - Oroville via Facebook

CHP Officer Terry Dunn, who pulled the child over, told NBC affiliate KNVN of Chico that his reaction was one of shock.

"Several other officers showed up, as well, and it was kind of like one of those no-one-really-believed-it kind of things," Dunn said.

Dunn said that after the vehicle was stopped, he "did notice a little head bopping inside" the car.

"As I was approaching I could see a kid, which turned out to be a 9-year-old child, sticking his head out and saying, 'I'm sorry, I'm trying to get to school,'" Dunn told the station.

Dunn said it was dangerous and reminded parents to keep car keys secure and to talk to their children to prevent anything like Wednesday's incident from happening again.