OGDEN — Most kids his age play with toy cars, but a 5-year-old Ogden boy opted for the real thing.
A day after he took the wheel of his parents’ SUV and headed down the freeway — only to be stopped by a trooper who wondered why the car was weaving and going just 32 mph — Adrian Zamarripa got his wish of cruising in a Lamborghini.
This time, he sat in the passenger seat.
Adrian, who turns 6 next month, grinned Tuesday as he rolled up and down his Ogden street in a black Huracan model, a joyride made possible by a fellow sports car aficionado a few decades his senior.
It was a safer test drive than on Monday afternoon, when a Utah Highway Patrol trooper spotted the swerving SUV on southbound I-15 in Ogden.
Trooper Rick Morgan saw the car drift across three lanes without signaling, then continue to weave. He suspected the driver was impaired or perhaps suffering a medical issue.
Morgan could not see the driver’s head from his own sedan when he turned on his lights and siren to pull the car over in Ogden, but that’s not unusual with SUVs.
Then he walked up to the car that had rolled to a stop at the median, and the driver’s window came down.
“It absolutely was not what I was expecting,” the trooper said.
Adrian was sitting on the front edge of the driver’s seat, with a leg extended to the brake pedal, Morgan recalled. He doubted the child had been able to peer over the dashboard.
“Because he almost started to cry, I think the realization that something wasn’t quite right probably hit him,” Morgan said late Monday. “I do think he’s probably had a life’s lesson today.”
Morgan suspects the young driver traveled about 2 miles from his Ogden home to the freeway off-ramp at 25th Street. He helped the boy put the car into park and turn it off before summoning his parents.
A sulky Adrian told the trooper he was traveling to his sister’s house in California, where he planned to purchase a Lamborghini with the $3 in his wallet after his mother refused to buy one for him, Morgan recalled.
He said he initially believed the boy was 8 or 9 years old, but the child insisted he was 5. Adrian’s parents later confirmed that he will turn 6 in June.
The boy has long dreamed of owning his own red Lamborghini and spends hours watching YouTube videos of the luxury sports cars racing around, according to his sister, Sidney Estrada.
With both parents at work Monday, Estrada was watching the child when she became sleepy and took a midday nap.
That’s when Adrian grabbed the keys to his family car from a hook in their Ogden home and sneaked out about noon. When she awoke to find the car had vanished — along with the keys and the boy — a panicked Estrada called her father.
Joel Zamarripa said he did not initially suspect that his son made a getaway. He rushed home and was searching for the boy when police called.
Zamarripa fought emotion as he described the ordeal on Tuesday, saying he does not understand how his son learned to drive or managed to pull away from the family’s home and onto busy roads.
“I don’t know how,” he said.
The boy’s mother, Beatriz Flores, said through tears that she was similarly at a loss of words.
On Tuesday, the seriousness of the boy’s brief escape fully sank in, Estrada said, adding that the experience is a reminder to her family and others to keep a close eye on youngsters.
Even though he lacked the height and experience he will need to safely take a spin, the boy heeded the trooper’s siren and did not cause any damage to the car, noted Morgan. Adrian had been traveling 32 mph on the freeway as the cars around him slowed down and gave him space.
Yet when the trooper asked how the boy had learned to drive, the child did not let on.
“I hope by the time he gets a Lambo, he’ll be able to handle faster than 32,” Morgan quipped.
Morgan and his colleagues believe the child may have secretly hit the road before Monday’s experience. They said investigators were preparing to speak with the Weber County Attorney’s Office.
Adrian’s adventure caught the attention of news outlets throughout the country.
On Tuesday, fellow Lamborghini aficionado and owner Jeremy Neves didn’t want to focus on the negatives. So he treated Adrian to rides up and down the street.
Even though the boy took a dangerous risk and Neves doesn’t want to encourage similar behavior among other kids, he said he couldn’t help but feel inspired when a friend sent him an article about the boy’s adventure.
“He had the courage to just go after what he wanted, you know?” said Neves, who took his own maiden joyride at age 12. “He didn’t have the skill set, let alone the size to drive a vehicle, and he figured it out.”
Neves said he wanted to cheer up the boy and others in a time filled with negativity, fear and doubt. He embraced a shy Adrian, who didn’t say much, but could be seen smiling and inspecting the car.
“Maybe he’s getting punished, maybe he’s grounded, maybe he’s got some chores to do. I can relate to that,” Neves said. “At the same time, I thought it would be really cool to say, ‘Your dreams aren’t as far away as you think they are.’”
Adrian, still a decade away from lawfully taking the wheel, watched tearfully as the luxury car pulled away Tuesday, but not before several members of his family also went for a quick ride with Neves.
“He’s always talked about wanting a Lamborghini, and now he got a chance to ride in one,” said Estrada. “I’m glad that after all the fear our own family put in him, that he got to live his dream.”
Contributing: Andrew Adams, KSL