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BOY, 9, TAKES CAR FOR A RIDE ON THE WILD SIDE

A 9-year-old Niagara Falls boy was seen driving on Niagara Falls Boulevard and the Niagara Expressway Sunday morning, witnesses and state police said.

Sgt. Philip Bourque said the boy's identity would not be released but said he was from the LaSalle section of the city.

A witness said he saw the boy weaving his way west on Niagara Falls Boulevard before getting onto the I-190 northbound.

At one point, another witness said the boy stopped the car on the expressway and turned around, driving south in the northbound lanes. He then stopped as an unmarked State Police car driven by Investigator David Pinnock arrived on the scene.

Larry B. Sklarski of 91st Street said he noticed a car in front of him on Niagara Falls Boulevard near the Tops International Super Center, 7200 Niagara Falls Blvd.

"He was going from one side of the road to the other," Sklarski said. "He would go from the right lane to the center passing lane and back again."

Sklarski continued: "He barely stopped for the light at 66th Street. I pulled up next to him and I saw a kid no older than my 8-year-old."

The juvenile driver then turned "erratically" onto the entrance ramp to the I-190, Sklarski said.

Sklarski was on his way to Walnut Avenue Community Church, at Walnut Avenue and 28th Street, and called 911 as soon as he arrived. That was 9:37 a.m.

But State Police dispatcher Sandra Banks said she had answered a 911 call three minutes earlier
from Lisa Poglucky, a cellular-telephone caller driving on the I-190.

James Ellson of Grand Island, who was in the car with Ms. Poglucky, said they saw the car ahead of them weaving at 50 mph in the left lane of the northbound I-190 between the Porter Road and Witmer Road exits. They thought the driver was either drunk or having some sort of medical problem.

Ellson said that upon closer look, Ms. Poglucky saw the driver was a boy. She called 911 at once.

Ellson said Miss Banks advised them to get the car's license number. As they pulled alongside the car, which had moved into the right lane, Ellson said the boy saw them.

"Obviously, he was scared," Ellson said. The boy slammed on the brakes and stopped the car. Fortunately, traffic was light.

Ellson said he stopped his car at a U-turn driveway and got out, running toward the boy in hopes of taking the keys away from him. But the boy backed up a short distance, made a left turn onto the grassy median and drove back south in the northbound lanes.

"I thought there was going to be a head-on collision," Ellson said. He said the boy stopped on the shoulder of the road as Pinnock arrived, followed shortly by a marked patrol car. Troopers, however, said the car became stuck in the median.

Miss Banks said the boy stopped at 9:39. "It was the longest five minutes of my life," she said.

Pinnock could not be reached to comment, but his written entry on the blotter at the Lewiston State Police station says he brought the child to the station and turned him over to a guardian, who was not identified.

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