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Charge dropped for child driver

The 8-year-old who went for a spin in Brooksville will have his case referred to DCF, instead.

By JONATHAN ABEL
Published October 6, 2006


BROOKSVILLE - Kobie Stires earned his first traffic ticket in August at age 8.

But the 4-foot-tall deaf boy can now breathe a little easier after his arraignment in Donald Scaglione's courtroom.

At the arraignment on Wednesday, the State Attorney's Office announced it would drop the charge of driving without a license and instead refer the case to the state Department of Children and Families.

"We take into consideration the nature of the charge and the age," said Bill Gladson, supervisor of the State Attorney's Office in Hernando. "That means that DCF might be able to better help this kid."

DCF spokesman Tim Bottcher said he could not discuss what issues his department would be looking into or even whether DCF was going to take the file.

The case goes back to Aug. 31, when Kobie woke up before his mother and decided to go for a spin.

The barefoot boy borrowed the keys from her purse and hopped into the 1999 Dodge Intrepid that his mother was borrowing from his grandmother.

He drove it around the neighborhood in Brooksville, 2 miles in all, making a clean U-turn but also running over a street sign post.

Kobie managed to get the car back into the driveway, albeit badly damaged. When he saw a neighbor looking at him, he ran into the house to hide.

His mother, Nitasha Pridemore, had no idea what was going on until a deputy came to the door and asked her who had been driving the car.

She went up to the car and saw the seat pulled all the way up. That's when she realized it had been Kobie.

"I'm speechless. I don't know what to do," she said that afternoon. "I'm taking this as a sign that I've got a lot of trouble on my hands."

Jonathan Abel can be reached at jabel@sptimes.com or 352 754-6114.