PHOENIX -- An 8-year-old boy who took the family car and crashed it into a power pole probably won't face criminal charges in the death of his 6-year-old sister, who was riding with him, police said.
Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos also said there's nothing to indicate the children's mother would face any charges in the Wednesday night crash that killed her daughter, Aaliyah Felder.
"There's really no criminal element to any of it," Martos said. "From mom's standpoint, there's nothing to indicate any neglect or abuse. From the kid's point, he's 8 years old so his mental state is not culpable."
The mother bathed the children Wednesday night, put them to bed, and then went to bed herself. Half an hour later, she got up and discovered they were gone, Martos said. The front door was open and the family sedan was missing.
The mother frantically knocked on doors in the neighborhood, then, fearful her children had been kidnapped, called police.
Two officers spotted her car on the main thoroughfare near her apartment and tried to pull it over. An instant after the officers turned on their emergency lights, the 2010 Hyundai Elantra swerved and crashed into a power pole.
The two patrol officers ran up to the crashed car, "thinking it's a kidnap, that there's a bad guy in there," Martos said.
Instead, they found the children in their pajamas and the girl seriously injured.
The mother ran over after seeing the police activity and was visibly distraught after discovering her children were in the car, according to Martos.
"It was a horrible and tragic moment for her," he said.
The girl died early Thursday, while her brother suffered an ankle injury that didn't appear serious. Police didn't release the names of the boy or the 24-year-old mother.
At the accident scene Thursday, someone had tied two stuffed animals and a pink balloon that said "Princess" to a tree next to the wooden pole struck by the car.
Scattered on the ground were parts of the car's bumper, the chrome "H" emblem from its grille, and medical packaging next to a pink shirt that appeared to have been cut off the girl by rescue workers.
Neighbor Elizabeth Marks outlined a sunburst on a street-facing window screen using colored chalk and wrote, "May she rest peacefully, God Bless."
Marks said she knew the family only in passing but the mother was friendly.
"I'd always see her giving rides to the neighbors," Marks said. "The whole family is nice."
Martos said police did not know prompted the children to go on the drive or how they got the car keys. Officers have not spoken to the boy at length.
From what police have pieced together, it appeared the children drove south about 3 miles from their home and then backtracked, Martos said.