A 7-year-old boy's joyride ended at his home late Monday afternoon after he was pursued at low speeds for approximately three miles by Shelbyville police.
The boy has been emotionally upset since his father's military deployment, a family member explained to the Times-Gazette as a possible underlying cause of the incident.
Officers had been alerted of an erratic driver and were on the alert for a full-size Dodge pickup truck.
The boy, driving his mother's truck which fit the description, was initially spotted by police on Madison Street at Alton Avenue about 5:30 p.m., Officer Charles A. Merlo Jr. said.
Officers, with blue lights and siren activated, followed the boy out 82 Bypass to Depot Street, where the truck struck a utility pole, and Belmont Avenue to his home in the Meadowlark Drive area off Highway 130 South.
"He slid across the double yellow line into oncoming traffic, then corrected and got back into the proper lane" on Madison Street, Officer Josh Leverette said.
"The vehicle struck a highway sign and utility pole on the passenger side and nearly hit oncoming cars on Belmont Avenue and the bridge (at Coney Island Road).
"He's lucky he didn't get killed," Merlo said. "If the truck's airbag had gone off, at his age and size he could have died."
The boy was driving "all over the road" but didn't reach speeds beyond 45-50 mph and at times was going as low as 35 mph, Merlo and Leverette said.
"He's a young juvenile!" officers exclaimed over police radio as the boy pulled into his mother's driveway.
Officers accompanied the child into his home to seek a parent, Leverette said. The child was then "taken into custody" by Leverette and is charged in juvenile court with five counts of reckless endangerment and one count each of driving without a license, leaving the scene of an accident, evading by motor vehicle and joyriding.
The family member said the boy is "large for his age" and Merlo said he was the size of a 10-year-old child.
Juvenile charges have been filed against the youth.