11-Year-Old Steals School Bus, Flips Off Cops in Ensuing High-Speed Chase

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Police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, detained an 11-year-old boy Oct. 11 after a high-speed chase in which they said the boy was driving an empty school bus he had stolen.

Pursuit began before 11 a.m., according to WBRZ-TV, and it ended at about 11:30 when the bus went off the road and hit a gas line and a tree in a homeowner’s yard.

Authorities said no one appeared to be injured in the crash, although the bus sustained some damage when it hit the tree. According to TMZ, police said the bus hit three vehicles along the way, but no one was seriously hurt.

According to WBRZ, police said the bus was stolen from a private owner who contracted with Progress Head Start for its use.

Police did not release the name of the 11-year-old but said the child was too small to reach the pedals from the driver’s seat and thus drove the bus standing up in an apparent joyride.

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While steering, he extended one hand with a middle finger raised to police during the chase, they said.

The 11-year-old was handcuffed at the scene and booked into juvenile detention on several charges, including theft of a motor vehicle and aggravated assault.

The latter charge comes from the 11-year-old “purposely trying to strike a vehicle,” police said.

Should this child face an adult punishment?

Joy Gradney, who videoed the chase on her phone, said she was surprised when she saw who was driving the bus.

“As he got closer and closer and closer, I saw it’s a little boy in there and he was laughing,” Gradney told WAFB-TV. “He was like giggling on the way … as he goes right past me. I’m like I can’t believe it’s a little boy.”

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No key was needed to start the bus because it had a push-button starter, police explained.

Libby Smith, whose front yard was the setting for the end of the chase, said she was afraid at first that the crash meant many children were injured.

“I’m thinking what in the world is going on, and my first thought is that it was a lot of kids on the bus,” Smith told WAFB. “Thank goodness he was OK, he was safe, but it was not your typical Sunday afternoon occurrence for sure. So we’re blessed that it didn’t do any more damage than it did.”

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