A 12-year-old boy ejected himself from a pick-up truck barreling down a busy Florida highway in what police say was a frantic attempt to escape from the vehicle’s driver, who was allegedly trying to kidnap the child.
Timothy Miller, the truck’s driver, has since been charged with kidnapping of a child under 13 years old, child neglect, and resisting with violence.
Authorities responded Wednesday afternoon to reports a child had jumped from a moving vehicle headed southbound on I-95.
“Officers observed that [the child] had abrasions to his forehead, arms, and hands, consistent with jumping out of a motor vehicle,” an arrest affidavit obtained by Oxygen.com stated.
After colliding with the pavement, authorities said the boy lost consciousness momentarily.
The 12-year-old told Boynton Beach Police that he had been dropped off by a school bus earlier that day and was walking home when a white pick-up truck pulled up alongside him. The driver, Miller, allegedly asked the child if he wanted a ride.
“The male told him that he gives kids rides all the time and not to worry because he won’t do anything weird, and and began to smile at him,” the affidavit added. “[The child] said the male seemed nice and had a friendly smile so he agreed to get into the vehicle with the male.”
Then, police say, things took a creepy turn. Miller, 26, allegedly began to “act different,” asked the child for drugs, and began driving like a madman.
“The male then began looking at him strangely, making him feel uncomfortable, and began driving erratically by almost running off the roadway,” according to the police report.
The 12-year-old, fearing for his life, then attempted to open the passenger door and exit the speeding truck. Miller allegedly told the youth “he was not allowed to leave.”
“[The child] continued to attempt to open the door and the male accelerated in an effort to prevent [him] from exiting the vehicle, however, [he] was determined and scared so he jumped from the moving vehicle, falling to the pavement,” the affidavit also stated.
Police say one witness who observed the encounter tailed Miller’s vehicle down I-95, eventually catching up to him and boxing him in at an exit until authorities arrived.
Miller reportedly resisted arrest but was taken into custody a short time later.
Angel Perez, the motorist who pursued Miller, is a hero, police say.
“[Perez] actually followed the suspect’s truck and boxed the truck, got him out, and held him down until officers arrived,” Stephanie Slater, public information officer for Boynton Beach Police Department, told Oxygen.com.
“He’s the hero in all of this,” she added. “It couldn't be more fitting his name was Angel and he was there to save the day.”
Perez, a 29-year-old appliance deliveryman from Miami, said he was stunned to see the 12-year-old hop out of Miller’s truck.
“We saw the pick up truck driving reckless, next thing you know, the little kid opened up the door, he falls onto the concrete, really, really bad,” Perez told Oxygen.com.
After seeing that others at the scene were tending to the boy, Perez said he made a split-second decision: he stepped on the gas and raced after Miller’s pickup truck.
“I had this decision to make to help the kid or let the guy go,” he recalled. “I already saw some other people helping the kid so I went and chased the guy down. I had to do it, otherwise nobody else would’ve. He was sitting at the exit on the ramp like nothing ever happened.”
Perez called the ordeal a “crazy experience.”
Miller is being held in Palm Beach County Jail. He made his first court appearance on Thursday, according to online court documents.
“It’s a terrifying incident but we are incredibly grateful that this child is okay,” Slater, the Boynton Beach Police public information officer, said. “And we’re incredibly grateful for the good Samaritans who stopped not only to assist the child but to then follow the suspect and provide that information to dispatch.”
Slater, who noted the 12-year-old is recovering, hopes local parents will take notice of the case.
“One of the biggest things we want to get across is to parents, and using this case as an opportunity to talk to your children about stranger danger,” she said.
“This is a stark reminder that stranger danger is still very real. We want parents to talk to their children about the dangers of getting in a car with someone they don’t know.”
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