GEORGIA (OCN) — Is there a really Santa Claus? Well, after reading this story you maybe have second thoughts. It started on late November 2007 when Suzzane Francis told her husband Lloyd that she would be filing for a divorce. After 12 years of marriage, she felt it was time to call it quits. After the incident, the couple would argue nightly in their home and it was heard by their 10 year old son, Michael. Michael who was sad and couldn’t take the fights between his parents, decided that he would runaway from his home in Atlanta.
While his parents was complaining once again last Monday evening, Michael took the opportunity to steal the keys to his father Lexus LS460. “I snuck out my bedroom window” he said pointing at it. “I see people do it all the on TV.” After picking up his bookbag he had filled with his Apple iPod, and food his mother had made him for school earlier, he ran across the lawn and jumped into his Dad’s car and was on this way merry way down the street.
“It’s hard than it looks” says Michael “I kept dragging Mom’s garbage can and thought I was going to get caught for sure.” Since his parents were talking at the top of their voice, they were unaware of his actions. As he drove through the streets, he thought about going to relatives but knew that his parents would find him there and take him home so he decided to go to and meet with Santa Claus. We ask him why Santa Claus and he replied saying that he wanted to ask Santa to keep his parent together. “Santa always get me my gift.” says Michael. “He’s the best!” He remember seeing his Dad talk to the car on many occasion and it gave them directions so he decided to try it too to get to Santa.
The navigation system hearing directions to “Santa Claus” took Michael on a 200 mile trip south down to Santa Claus, GA just 5 miles from Lyons.
It wasn’t until Michael was on I-75 that his mother realized that he was missing. “I almost had a heart attack..” says Suzzane “I ran screaming to Lloyd when I saw he (Michael) was missing.” “We thought he wasn’t too far…” says Lloyd. “I figured he was outside or somewhere in the neighbourhood. It wasn’t until I went to the garage to get the flashlight and saw that my car wasn’t in the driveway that I realize how wrong I was.”
Mr. Francis admits he was more worried for the car than his son for a moment and came to his senses and quickly called the police who issued an Amber Alert. Later when Michael on I-16, he was spotted by Marvin Bacon who drove in from New York with his family for vacation. “I would have missed him..” says Bacon “if he was in a different car. I was only paying attention since it was a Lexus.” Bacon goes on to add “I love Lexus and I was checking to see how it was tricked out and when I looked at the driver, I could hardly see them.” Bacon felt like something was wrong. Maybe the driver passed out and the car was on cruise so he decided to pull up closer. Upon a closer look through the tinted windows, he could see tiny Michael behind the wheel singing to the radio and behind the wheel.
“I was like What the hell!!” say Bacon as he saw little Michael bopping in the drivers seat. He begins to tell his wife, Tiffany what he had saw and she took their mobile phone and called 911. They continue to tail Michael per dispatch as the info was sent to State Trooper Rex Pollard who was doing patrol a few miles away.
Officer Pollard who grew up and has been doing patrol for 6 years in the area knew the surroundings and was behind Michael and the Bacon family in minutes. Mr. Bacon after seeing that the police were nearby, started backing off. Officer Pollard, using his PA system requested that the car to be pulled over.
“I didn’t know what to do…” says Michael. I wanted it get to Santa Claus but in school they taught me to listen to the police. Michael then slowed and stop the car right in the middle of the highway. Office Pollard stopped a few yards behind and address the vehicle to pull over to the shoulder as he use his car to block traffic. Minutes later, the three officers from the Lyons Police Department appeared on scene.
After reading the tags on the Michael’s dad car, the officers were alerted about the APB and notified dispatch who then relayed the info to the Atlanta Police. “I was so relieved..”says Suzzane when she overheard the officers saying that Michael was found. “My baby is okay.” Lloyd and Suzzane were driven to a chopper and flown to Vadalia Municipal Airport to meet Michael and the officers who had found him.
“What were you thinking?” says Suzzane to Michael. “You almost scared your father and I to death.” Michael runs to her and hugs her and whispers that he was sorry and that he didn’t want them to get a divorce so he was running to Santa for help. On the way to pick up the Lexus from the lot, Suzzane explains to Michael that she and his dad was able to talk and listen to each other on the chopper and would be staying together.
On Wednesday, we spoke again with Michael, who is happy but grounded, along with the other relatives of the family.