A nine-year-old girl and her four-year-old sister got into a head-on crash in Utah after driving off in their parents’ car because they wanted to go on a ‘road trip’ to California to swim with dolphins.
The youngsters from West Jordan, Utah, stole the red Chevrolet Malibu in the middle of the night Wednesday and set off for the beach.
They made it around 10 miles to West Valley City before the nine-year-old driver drove the wrong way along a freeway off-ramp and plowed straight into a semitrailer.
Bodycam footage shows responding police officers shocked to find the young children behind the wheel.
Both the girls and the truck driver escaped the incident unscathed, while the siblings’ parents were still fast asleep and non the wiser back at their family home.
A nine-year-old girl who swiped her parents’ car keys and tried to drive to the beach in the middle of the night with her four-year-old sister has crashed head-on with a semi-truck
The nighttime escapade unfolded around 3am Wednesday when the young children who share a bedroom took the car keys and snuck out of the house through the basement.
They then sat in the car for an an hour and a half while they worked out the basics of driving, police said.
They headed out from the driveway at 4.30am and started on their journey towards what they thought was California – 700 miles away.
Instead, they drove north and drove 10 miles to West Valley City.
A number of motorists reported seeing the car being driven erratically as the girl bumped into the side of a pickup truck.
A pickup driver thought the red Chevrolet was being driven under the influence and followed the car and reported it to the police.
After the girls exited State Road 201 at 3200 West, they crossed over a median and headed into traffic where they hit the semi-truck head-on.
The semi-truck driver told police he thought the car was going fast and may not have braked.
The Utah youngsters wanted to have a road trip to California to swim with dolphins in the ocean and drove 10 miles from their West Jordan home before the collision
Both the car and the truck had to be towed and police said it could have been much worse if the girls were not wearing seatbelts
The airbag went off for the nine-year-old in the driver’s seat but not for the four-year-old in the passenger’s seat.
The semi driver got out to check on the drivers of the other vehicle and told police he could not believe his eyes when he saw who was behind the wheel.
Both the car and the truck had to be towed and police said it could have been much worse if the girls were not wearing seatbelts.
Their parents were completely unaware of the road trip until police called them to inform them of the crash.
Lt. Sean McCarthy said the underage drivers told officers they wanted to swim in the ocean with dolphins in California.
‘They told the officers they were headed to California, wanted to enjoy the beach for a few days. I don’t know that we’ll tell them they were going the wrong way,’ he said.
Their parents were completely unaware and were sleeping in bed until police called them to inform them of the crash
Officers asked the parents if they had talked to the girls about taking a road trip to California but they said the girls came up with the idea themselves
Detective Scott List with the West Jordan Police Department said: ‘There’s no history of this… this is a motivated kid who from what I understand wanted to go swim with dolphins in the ocean.
‘To do what she did is impressive. Scary but impressive.’
Eyewitness Danielle LeBlanc, a school bus driver in Salt Lake county, said: ‘First thing I did was look for the parents. Then I saw the car and the whole front end was gone and I was like, “Oh no!” And then I looked over again and I saw two little girls in the front seat.
‘I was pretty shocked. I’m like, “Oh my gosh – if my kids did that, holy cow, that’s insane.” I don’t know what I would do or emotions I would go through.’
A semi-truck driver thought the driver was under the influence and the nine-year-old then swerved into his path after leaving State Road 201 on to 3200 West
The semi driver got out to check on the drivers of the other vehicle and told police he could not believe his eyes when he saw who was behind the wheel
Lt. Sean McCarthy told Fox 13: ‘The semi-truck driver reported that there were two kids in the car and they appear very young.
‘Officers got here and discovered it was a 9-year-old driver and her 4-year-old sister.’
Officers asked the ‘shocked’ parents if they had talked to the girls about taking a road trip to California but they said the girls came up with the idea themselves.
The parents added that all doors apart from one in the basement are on a latch and the children escaped after grabbing the keys from a place ‘not normally accessible by children’.
West Valley police spokeswoman Roxeanne Vainuku said: ‘I guess they were intending to start their summer vacation a little early.’