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Kids grow up watching us drive our cars. It stands to reason that they will eventually want to emulate that. However, most kids don’t get the opportunity to take mom and dad’s wheels to the store at seven years old. Technically, seven-year-old Daniel Wittenbach made the opportunity for himself and took his shot with his parents’ Kia Sportage while they were sleeping. 

A 7-year-oldDash cam footage of a kid driving a Kia Sportage
Daniel Wittenbach going to get a slushy | YouTube via WLWT

How did this kid get his parents’ car? 

Daniel Wittenbach woke up, like many of us often do, with a slushy on the mind. As any adult would do when faced with such a hankering, he got the keys to the Kia Sportage and set off for his refreshing sweet treat. However, Daniel isn’t an adult with his own Kia; He’s seven and obviously doesn’t own a car, but his folks do. 

Carscoops reports that once the slushy craving set its claws in deep enough, Daniel grabbed a chair, snagged his folks’ car keys, and left the house in the Kia Sportage while the adults slept. 

The Kia Sportage couldn’t take him where he needed to go

The Kia’s aftermarket dashcam captured the footage of the underage errand. Considering that young Wittenbach’s feet could barely reach the pedals, the drive went about as you might expect. To make matter worse, the young man was under the impression that the Kia was “driving by itself.” 

The local news outlet, WLWT, reports that the young fellow took managed to pilot the Sportage down Roosevelt Boulevard, crossed the median, and drove into oncoming traffic. 

The 911 calls quickly flooded the dispatchers about an errant Kia driving into oncoming traffic. Several bystanders realized what was happening and tried to intervene by flagging the young driver. One bystander even tried to break a window to get in the car to help Daniel bring the car to a stop. However, all the attempts to help failed. The runaway Kia Sportage didn’t come to a stop until it rammed a Jeep Liberty. 

What happens to the parents

Police officer talking to a driver, highlighting tips for talking your way out of a speeding ticket
A car pulled over by the police | Jonathan Cooper via Unsplash

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It is easy in situations like this to judge the parents. According to Carscoops, Daniel’s father, Brian Wittenbach, told WLWT, “My wife and I are not bad parents, and I’m sure people are going to label us like that.” He added this could happen to anyone, and it’s hard not to sympathize with them. 

Thankfully, Daniel and the Liberty driver were unharmed during the incident. However, local authorities were less than amused, and Butler County Children’s Services is said to be investigating the incident. 

The young driver’s comment about the car “driving itself” brings up some interesting points surrounding the current conversation around autonomous vehicles. Many automakers are touting semi-autonomous driving actions as being the same as a fully self-driving car. If this questionable marketing language has tricked many adults into believing and trusting in this, then how can we expect a child to make the distinction?