Every parent knows that flash of panic when your child unexpectedly wanders out of your sight. That feeling could have been tragic for a New York family whose autistic 6-year-old boy slipped away on his battery-powered ATV and onto a New York parkway Sunday evening — and was saved by several quick-thinking motorists.
Per the Associated Press, the boy was playing in a Mount Vernon, N.Y., park with his relatives when he made his break. His mother soon realized the child was missing and called 911 about 20 minutes later — about the same time the calls began coming in from drivers on the Bronx River Parkway, the six-lane highway some 10 blocks from the park.
The speed limit on that section of the parkway is 45 mph. The top speed of the mini Yamaha Raptor ATV the boy was riding is 5 mph, but at a full charge its battery can run for three hours. Police say the youngster followed the roads down the accelerator ramp and into the right lane of the parkway.
Luckily for the boy, several drivers immediately took action:
Westchester County police spokesman Kieran O’Leary said three drivers formed a slow-moving shield around the boy on the Bronx River Parkway, then one pulled over and ran to grab the boy and his little vehicle and move them onto the shoulder.
“A couple of cars were behind him, maybe another alongside him a little bit, somewhat protecting him from the possibility of being struck by a car that wouldn’t have seen him in time,” O’Leary said.
Ana Rubio, one of the drivers, said the adults on scene were nearly as shaken as the child. “He was like, ‘I need to go home, mom, mom,’ all he kept saying was ‘mom,'” Rubio stated.
The boy was uninjured and reunited with his family. The ATV should probably get a permanent time-out.