A South Carolina boy is lucky to be alive after he drove 200 miles by himself to live with a stranger he had met on Snapchat.
The 11-year-old boy has since been reunited with his family, all thanks to Officer Christopher Braun, who happened to be in the right place at the right time, the Charleston Police Department said in a press release on Tuesday.
The potentially dangerous incident happened late Sunday night into early Monday morning, according to authorities.
The Simpsonville boy had been driving for approximately three hours when he pulled into a parking lot beside Braun’s police car on Monday around 12:30 a.m. and told the officer he was lost.
According to Braun, the boy explained that he “took his brother’s car and drove to Charleston to live with an unknown male he met on Snapchat.”
As he was driving, the child relied on his father’s Insignia tablet for GPS signal to lead him to the Charleston address, authorities said.
However, he found himself in a predicament when the tablet lost signal and he could not recover the address. (Snapchat messages disappear within 10 seconds of a user opening them.)
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With nothing else to do, the boy pulled over and asked the cop for help. After providing his name, his father’s name and telephone number, Braun notified the boy’s dad, who said he was already in the process of reporting the child missing.
The 11-year-old has since been reunited with his father and brother, while police launch an investigation into the unknown man and analyze the tablet.
The Charleston and Simpsonville Police Departments are now reminding parents to speak to their children about safety when using social media.
“You have somebody who’s chatting with an 11-year-old about traveling so we’re very cautious about wanting to make sure children are safe on the internet,” Simpsonville Police Department investigator James Donnelly told WYFF News 4.
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“I would love tonight, right now, anybody who’s watching this, who is a parent of a child, especially an 11-year-old, to sit down with your 11-year-old, right now, right this moment and have a conversation about what you’re doing on social media,” Charleston Police Chief Luther T. Reynolds told CNN affiliate WCIV.
“The dangers, the benefits, and things that as a parent we need to talk about every day,” he added.