WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A 6-year-old boy with autism drove his battery-powered toy car onto the Bronx River Parkway before grown-up motorists rescued him, police said Monday.
As CBS 2’s Lou Young reported, neighbors almost could not believe that the boy drove a plastic, battery-powered toy vehicle onto the busy expressway Sunday night.
“It’s a state of shock,” said neighbor Edwina Tillman, “because you just can’t believe something like that would happen.”
The 911 lines lit up when the boy was spotted.
“The first guy who came in contact with the boy, I mean, he was almost, like, shaking,” said Good Samaritan Joel Reyes. “I mean, he had goose bumps. He was like, ‘I almost hit the kid.’”
Reyes was one of the three drivers who positioned their cars to protect the child and his scooter on the northbound parkway at Oak Street in Mount Vernon, forming a slow-moving shield around the boy. One driver then pulled over and ran to grab the boy and his little vehicle and move them onto the shoulder, explained Westchester County police spokesman Kieran O’Leary.
“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.
Joel Reyes and his wife were on their way home from New Jersey when they saw the boy.
“We just see a blue, motorized, ATV going probably no faster than 5 mph,” Reyes said.
It turned out the boy, known as Malik, had disappeared from a park a full mile from where he was found. He was out with his family at the Mount Vernon park Sunday when he slipped out of sight and made his way onto the northbound side of the parkway via Oak Street, 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported.
“It was kind of crazy. Everybody kept looking around the area. We went up there, we went around, and then this way,” witness Genoveva Burgues said.
The family spent 20 to 30 minutes looking for him, then went to police at about 7:40 p.m., “Just as we started getting 911 calls that there’s a child on the Bronx River Parkway operating a toy vehicle,” O’Leary said.
His grandmother left an older brother in charge while the family searched for him.
“I would love to thank those three young men who stopped their cars and cornered my grandson off,” said the grandmother, who spoke exclusively to CBS 2 and did not want her name used.
One resident who lives in an apartment complex that overlooks the highway told Schuck she thought she’d seen it all until Sunday.
“That’s the first,” she said. “The parents that live right there on that hill, he probably came from the hill. They always supervise their children, so that’s a first.”
Reyes said when he got off the toy vehicle, it was as if none of it was a big deal.
“When he came off he was just sitting on the grass, you know, just like nothing fazed him; like nothing happened,” he said.
But as to how it happened, Malik’s grandmother didn’t know.
“I’m the happiest woman in the world now, and Malik is an intelligent person,” she said. “I’m still trying to figure out how he got where he was going.”
The boy was checked out at Montefiore Medical Center and was just fine, Schuck reported.
The names of the boy and his rescuers were not made public.
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