AUBURN, Calif. (KTXL) — It was the beginning of a heart-stopping morning for a couple in Auburn when two women drove away in their car with their 7-month-old still inside.
The incident began at a daycare near Highway 49 in Auburn, and it ended when the driver crashed near Highway 193 and Live Oak Lane.
“A parent’s living nightmare to watch a car with your child in it drive away from you,” said father Elijah Atkinson.
Elijah and Korral Atkinson’s morning started off hectic, but normal, as they dropped off their 2-year-old at Cris’s WeeCare on Live Oak Lane. It all changed in a moment.
“We barely got silhouettes of people in the car — couldn’t tell anything,” Elijah Atkinson said.
As the Atkinsons went inside the daycare, deputies said 29-year-old Roniqua Wartson and 23-year-old Anastacia Andino got inside the couple’s car and drove off down Live Oak Lane toward Highway 193. The Atkinsons’ 7-month-old was still in the backseat.
“I called 911 immediately,” Korral Atkinson said. “He took off on foot up the hill to chase after the car and then Placer County Sheriffs took over after that.”
Deputies located and chased the suspects in the stolen vehicle down Highway 193. The driver, suspected to be Wartson, crashed on the side of the highway, knocking down a utility pole — 7-month-old baby boy Asher still inside.
“We were notified by the sheriff’s that it had been in collision but not the severity of it until we had returned to us at the hospital,” Elijah Atkinson said.
The good news: baby Asher was unharmed.
Both Wartson and Andino were arrested shortly after the pursuit and crash on suspicion of child endangerment. They may also face drug-related charges.
CHP released video of Wartson’s capture in a wooded area near the crash site.
The Atkinsons are thankful for the quickness of first responders during the terrifying incident.
“They were very quick to respond. The paramedics and the firefighters who brought our son to the hospital, we are very thankful they were attentive. And it’s also Veterans Day, and one of the paramedics was a veteran. So, I thank him very much.”
They are also thankful their baby boy is back safe and sound.
“Something way worse could’ve happened today and it didn’t. So, we’re very thankful for that,” Korral Atkinson said.