KENTWOOD, Mich. (WOOD) — A 2-year-old is safe after a vehicle was stolen with the child inside on Tuesday, police say.
The vehicle was stolen around 8:10 a.m. in the area of 48th Street and Marlette Avenue in Kentwood, according to the Kentwood Police Department. Police said shortly after officers were sent to the area, a person called and said a 2-year-old had been left on the side of the road nearby.
The toddler was not hurt and has been reunited with his parents, police say.
The morning started like any other for Dave Skinner, going on his daily route as a bus driver with Kelloggsville Public Schools.
But around 8 a.m. he came across parents in the road desperately calling for help.
“They screamed at me that somebody had stolen their car with their baby in it,” Skinner said. “So immediately I got on the phone with 911.”
Wilfred Gonzalez sees the family across the street at the bus stop every day. But Tuesday morning, the family’s worst nightmare came true: their baby was taken from them in a stolen car.
“It happened within fractions of a second,” Gonzalez said through an interpreter. “It wasn’t something that happened for a long time. It happened so fast that everybody was confused and trying to help the mom with the disappearing.”
After he relayed information to dispatch, Skinner said he got on the radio to let the other bus drivers know a vehicle had been stolen with a child inside.
Kristen Nickelson, the district’s director of transportation, couldn’t believe it.
“It was kind of shocking,” Nickelson said. “I just sat there like … did he really just say that? Did that really just happen?”
When Skinner’s call came out, another bus driver, Sue Figueroa, realized she just went past a boy wrapped up in a blanket on the side of the road.
“(Figueroa said) ‘I just drove past a baby by the side of the road with a blanket,’ and I just immediately said, ‘I need you to turn around and get back there,'” Nickelson said.
Figueroa was able to pick the toddler up and bring him to his parents.
“It was probably the longest four to six minutes (of the mom’s) life,” Nickelson said.
Nickelson said Skinner and Figueroa are “heroes” and she is proud to work with them.
“This could have been worse. … That mom was so scared, and I just can’t imagine what it would have been like not knowing where your baby was,” she said.
Skinner said he was just doing his job.
“I don’t know if we’re heroes,” Skinner said. “Drivers are very attentive to all the kids in the neighborhoods while we’re picking them up. And if they see something odd or strange, they’re real quick to get on the radio and holler back.”
But thanks to Skinner jumping into action, a family is reunited with their baby.
“I’m just glad her kid is home safe,” Skinner said. “Cars are replaceable. But I’m glad her child’s home. It was a good day and a good outcome.”
Police say the stolen vehicle was soon found in Grand Rapids. Officers have not been successful in finding a suspect.
Anyone with information should call the Kentwood Police Department Detective Bureau at 616.656.6604, or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345 or silentobserver.org.