PHOENIX - An 8-year-old boy who crashed his mother's car into a utility pole, killing his 6-year-old sister, likely won't face criminal charges because of his young age, Phoenix police said.
Police said the pair took the car for a joyride after their mother fell asleep Wednesday night.
A series of 911 calls at about 10:15 p.m. MT Wednesday from residents in the area saying a young child was behind the wheel of a vehicle. A group of them, including the children's frantic mother, were chasing the Hyundai Elantra on foot.
"It looks like next to me there are these two little kids driving a car," Rudy De La Cruz, 17, told a 911 dispatcher as he followed in his own vehicle. "They're all over the lanes and not stopping." The 911 calls that Phoenix police released Thursday as well as accounts from neighbors described the chaos leading up to the crash.
At some point the vehicle veered from the road, crashed through a steel fence that separates the neighborhood from the street and drove back onto the road. Neighbors said tire marks in the dirt show the path the vehicle traveled.
Neighbor Delia Lara said she was smoking a cigarette and chatting in a neighbor's backyard when they heard the vehicle crash through a steel fence. She described it as a "loud noise, like thunder."
A boy appeared to be in the driver's seat, his head barely peeking above the steering wheel, Lara said.
"He looked like he could barely reach the foot pedals."
- Rudy De La Cruz, Phoenix
"I yelled, 'They're kids! They're kids!' " Lara said, speaking in Spanish.
De La Cruz started following the vehicle.
"Oh, my God," De La Cruz told the dispatcher. "OK, they almost hit somebody. They're swerving out of control right now."
Police, who believed the children may have been kidnapped based on what their mother told them, tried to pull the car over.
The vehicle crashed into a utility pole less than a mile from where it crashed through the fence.
Aaliyah Felder, 6, died from her injuries at a hospital early Thursday, police said. Her brother sustained a minor injury to his ankle.
Department spokesman Steve Martos said police will more than likely not pursue criminal charges because it would be hard to assign blame to someone so young.
"At this point there's nothing to indicate any criminal aspect to this event," he said.
He said police spoke briefly to the child to get basic information on the chain of events, but he was unaware whether the child grasped the severity of the incident.
Investigators plan to follow up with the family later to piece together additional details.
While De La Cruz was following the car, he said he could not see the girl inside because she was so small.
"He looked like he could barely reach the foot pedals," De La Cruz said of the driver.