Man Accused of Coaxing Boy, 11, to Drive on Highway

Suspect told girlfriend's son to follow him, police say
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 30, 2011 12:24 PM CDT

(Newser) – An illegal highway game of follow-the-leader landed a 51-year-old man in jail, with investigators saying yesterday that the man coaxed his girlfriend's 11-year-old son to follow him in a car through the Mojave Desert. Terry Michael Varner was charged with willful cruelty to a child resulting in possible injury or death after being arrested Sunday and jailed. Sheriff's dispatchers were notified that a reckless driver was on Interstate 15 and then northbound on US 395 in the desert town of Adelanto, and some callers said a child was behind the wheel.

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A deputy spotted the car and pulled it over. Another vehicle in front of the child driver also pulled over, but that vehicle quickly left before the deputy could contact its driver. The boy told investigators that Varner told him to get in the car and follow him through the rural area, and investigators confirmed Varner was in the second vehicle. Investigators don't know why Varner wanted the boy to follow him. Varner was later found by a deputy in the desert, and the boy was taken to a sheriff's station and released to his mother. (Read more Los Angeles stories.)

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