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He's only 9, but he really wanted to get to Dallas

Published January 18, 2007


LAKEWOOD, Wash. - A 9-year-old boy with a history of stealing cars sneaked onto a plane bound for Texas, getting caught after flubbing an airport connection, officials said.

Semaj Booker, unhappy after his family had recently moved from Dallas, apparently found a Southwest Airlines boarding card and made it through security Monday, hopping two flights to get to San Antonio, Texas. Airline employees stopped Semaj from boarding a flight to Dallas when he couldn't explain why he didn't have a boarding pass.

"The only thing I have to offer on that is that we're looking into it," Southwest spokeswoman Beth Harbin said.

The fourth-grader remained Wednesday in juvenile custody in San Antonio. He had been trying to get to his grandfather in Dallas, where he used to live.

His odyssey began Sunday when he stole a car outside a neighbor's house. Police pursued Semaj at speeds up to 90 mph until the engine blew.

It was the third car Semaj has stolen in the past month. His mother, Sakinah Booker, said she believes he learned to drive from playing video games on a PlayStation.

[Last modified January 18, 2007, 00:41:51]

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