INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — An 11-year-old boy who told authorities he was upset about being bullied at school took off in the family car on an odyssey that ended more than 200 miles away on the other side of the state.
Wearing shorts and a T-shirt, the boy left his suburban Kansas City home early Tuesday, making his way onto Interstate 35 and driving 92 miles to Bethany, a northwest Missouri community in an area where he used to hunt with his father.
He stopped there at a convenience store for some chips and a soft drink, then drove off aimlessly, following several other highways before ending up 135 miles away in Callao in northeast Missouri's Macon County.
Sgt. Michael Johnston of the Macon County Sheriff's Department said he got a call about 10:30 a.m. from the Callao postmaster, who reported that a boy was locked out of his car and wanted to talk.
"He just wanted some help," Johnston said. "He was a very polite guy. He spoke highly of his parents. He spoke highly of his school. But he knew he was in trouble."
The boy told Johnson he left home about 5:10 a.m. and had driven at speeds up to 85 mph.
"He was darn lucky," Johnston said.
The boy said the 1995 Chevrolet ran out of gasoline at one point, but that he continued on his way after some construction workers helped him out.
After locking himself out of the car when he stopped to use a restroom in Callao, he went to the post office and asked for help.
Johnston said the boy told him his only driving experience was operating a tractor a few times and backing the car out of the driveway.
The relieved parents, who had filed a missing person report in Independence noting that their car and keys were also gone, picked their son up at mid-afternoon Tuesday. He was back in school the next day.
Officials said they had not seen any indications of bullying at the boy's school.
"But we're taking the concern very seriously," Associate Superintendent Patty Schumacher said. "We don't want a student to ever feel pushed into a corner or want to just take off."