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7-year-old takes SUV for joyride in Middletown, crashes into Jeep

7-year-old takes SUV for joyride in Middletown, crashes into Jeep
Published: May. 13, 2022 at 4:23 PM EDT
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BUTLER COUNTY, Ohio (WXIX) - A 7-year-old managed to get behind the wheel of an SUV Thursday, causing a crash on Roosevelt Boulevard in Middletown.

Shortly after 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Middletown police received reports of a “small child” driving an SUV in the wrong lane on Roosevelt Boulevard, the crash report explains.

As officers were heading to the scene, 911 dispatch was told the vehicle had possibly crashed near Wicoff, the report states.

Officers arrived to find a red Kia SUV in the 1900 block of Roosevelt Boulevard had crashed into a red Jeep, according to the crash report.

After talking with witnesses, officers found out 7-year-old Daniel Wittenbach was driving alone in the Kia going eastbound on Roosevelt Boulevard before he crossed the median. From there, the 7-year-old drove in the westbound lanes into oncoming traffic, the report reads.

The 7-year-old then drove up onto the curb, hit a guardrail, and then hit the Jeep parked in the middle lane, according to the report.

Officers arrived to find a red Kia SUV in the 1900 block of Roosevelt Boulevard had crashed...
Officers arrived to find a red Kia SUV in the 1900 block of Roosevelt Boulevard had crashed into a red Jeep, according to the crash report.(Ohio Department of Public Safety)

The owner of the Jeep, who was one of the witnesses, told officers he and some others helped get the child out of the Kia once it came to a stop, the crash report said.

Officers were able to find out where 7-year-old Daniel lived and went to his home to speak with the parents.

Daniel did have a destination in mind: the gas station.

“I tried to go to the gas station, and I tried to go this way and I accidentally got hit,” Daniel said.

Alesha Wittenbach, the 7-year-old’s mother, says she had no idea her son was gone until three cops showed up at her home.

“I was kind of baffled about it,” says Alesha. “I was like, ‘How? Where?’ They were like, ‘Well, your car is on Roosevelt. He hit another car. He went into oncoming traffic, hit a guardrail, hit a car head-on.’ I was like, ‘My keys are,’ and when I looked up, they were gone.”

Whittenback thought her son was in his room sleeping.

She said her keys are kept on a hook on the wall out of reach of her children but added that Daniel is a climber.

The man whose jeep Daniel hit says he doesn’t have any hard feelings about the crash.

“I would like for them to have insurance so it can be fixed,” the man told FOX19 NOW Friday. “It’s not going to get fixed if they don’t have insurance, but no, I would rather that kid be alright.”

Daniel was taken to Atrium Medical Center. He is ok.

Child Protective Services is coming Tuesday to speak with Alesha, which she says she understands, given what happened.

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