Old enough to drive? 911 call leads to helicopter search - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Old enough to drive? 911 call leads to helicopter search; driver's ed teachers weigh in

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Fifteen-year-old Christopher Anderson shows what he's learned from Driver's Ed. Fifteen-year-old Christopher Anderson shows what he's learned from Driver's Ed.
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PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Fifteen-year-old Christopher Anderson will never forget his first weekend of driving on his learner's permit, neither will his father.

"I thought they were joking with me at first," said Hulan Anderson. "But no, they were serious."

A not-so-routine traffic stop ended Christopher's Sunday night driving lesson. The SABLE helicopter unit responded to a call about a small child driving with his mother in the car. Christopher said Mom was just as confused as he was.

"I said 'Mom, do I pull over?' and she doesn't know what to do, so I just keep going," said Christopher.

SABLE followed the Anderson family's green TrailBlazer into Pender County where Sheriff's Deputies pulled him over. The teenager received his permit only days before the incident, so he didn't know what to expect.

"It put the living fear of God in me," said Christopher.

It filled his father with some different emotions--anger and confusion.

"The amount of effort that went into finding him and getting him pulled over just seemed to be excessive," said Anderson.

But a situation involving a driver believed to be 8-10 years old is not a time for second-guessing, according to Sergeant J.J. Brewer with the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office. He said SABLE was in the area and the call was a priority.

"There is a kid about eight, nine...no more than 10 in the driver seat and he drove off!" exclaimed the woman on the phone who called 911. "He is driving on 421."

[Listen to the 911 call (WAV)]

"This was a bit out of the ordinary but we do have to respond to it in the same way, and in a safe way," said Brewer.

"The kid got in, turn the lights on, adjusted the steering wheel...everything," said the unknown female caller to dispatch officials. "And they drove off."

Anderson said he understands the seriousness of the situation but would appreciate an apology for an event that scared his son.

"It'll take a little bit to get back to driving without thinking that I'm being hunted down by the whole police and swat team," said Christopher.

He's already passed driver's education at Pender High School, and Christopher will be 16 in August.

Even though it was overwhelming, this event won't keep Christopher off the road. Still, others worry about how the young man could be affected by the incident.

Driver's ed. instructors know all about beginner's nerves and beginner's mistakes, but say that they don't know anything about preparing their students for situations like Anderson experienced.

"I don't know if he'll ever feel the same about driving again you know?" said a driver's ed. instructor named Marilyn. "That's enough to scare anyone."

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