Child safe after thief ditches car

Posted: Thursday, July 27, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A teenager who stole a car at a South Anchorage gas pump Wednesday night ditched it a quarter-mile up the road after realizing there was a toddler in the back seat.

''I think he looked in the rear-view mirror and said, 'Oh my god,' '' Anchorage police officer Ed Gurtler said.

In the 16 minutes before 2-year-old Destiny Schmidt was found, police had cars and K-9s descending upon South Anchorage for a kidnapping. They called Alaska State Troopers and were about to launch a helicopter.

Destiny's mother, Dorene Bush, had hurriedly put $5 of gas in her idling sedan and run in to pay and grab a soda.

When she reached the front of the line, the clerk said a car had taken off without paying for gas. When Bush realized the car was hers, she grabbed the store's portable phone and called police.

Soon after an officer arrived he told Bush the car had been found abandoned at Hanshew Middle School.

Destiny didn't know what had happened, her mother said. Destiny is legally blind.

''She probably couldn't focus on who got in the car,'' Bush said.

When a police officer found the car Destiny smiled and said, ''Mommy.''

Police surrounded the area and K-9s tracked a scent into the woods for more than an hour but didn't find the car thief.

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