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California 9-year-old takes mom's car to get to school. Grandma says "he was impatient."

9-year-old takes car to get to school in Oroville
9-year-old takes car to get to school in Oroville 02:23

OROVILLE -- A 9-year-old boy in Northern California took himself to elementary school on Wednesday, grabbing the keys to the family car and hitting the road. 

The California Highway Patrol Oroville called it "a scene straight out of a movie" after an officer on patrol saw a car stopped in the middle of the road, briefly.

The 9-year-old's grandmother spoke only to CBS13, sharing the details of the family's morning of "pure panic" that ended with the little boy home safely and with no injuries.

The boy's grandmother said his mother was in the bathroom and he was in the living room playing a game on a phone. When she came out, the boy was gone and so were her keys and car.

"Pure panic," said the boy's grandmother, who said his mom called 911 "hysterically."

CHP Oroville Officer Terry Dunn was the first person to see the car, first spotted stopped in the middle of a road about a mile from the house. Dunn said something stood out about the car that he followed into a parking lot.

"By the grace of God, [Officer Dunn] came up to the intersection, saw my grandson in the middle of the intersection," the boy's grandmother told CBS13.

At this point, Dunn said he couldn't see the driver fully. That makes sense as the grandmother said the boy is 3-foot-11 with blonde hair and "big blue eyes." She said that when it was all over, the little boy admitted he could barely reach the pedals to the car and couldn't see clearly over the steering wheel.

Dunn said he pulled his patrol vehicle behind the boy's car and it backed into him, slowly, as if it was in reverse, not park.

"Startled, I didn't know at that point what's going to happen," said Dunn.

It all changed when he saw the driver: the 9-year-old who leaned his head out the window and said: "Sorry! I'm just trying to get to school."

They were in the dirt parking lot just east of Plumas Avenue Elementary School.

When Dunn realized the boy really was on his way to school, he called the boy's mother to let her know he was safe. No one was injured.

It was a "terrifying" 15 minutes for the boy's family, his grandmother said, who explained they went to the "worst case scenario." She even admitted to believing he may have been "taken" as the thought of him behind the wheel of the family car was hard to believe. "There's no way!"

The family is not taking the situation lightly, they say. The boy apologized over and over, according to his grandmother, and said he was sorry for what he did.

"He was impatient," she told CBS13.

He still had time to be his "humble" self, she went on, saying that he said he saw a woman selling strawberries on the side of the road and called out to her: "Hi!" and "I'm allergic to strawberries or I'd buy some."

CHP Oroville said in their Facebook post that the event can be used as a conversation starter for other families: "Let's use this unusual event as a catalyst for conversations about safety, responsibility, and the importance of adhering to our community's driving laws."

No one was injured.

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