Wrong-way driver in downtown Salt Lake City was 14-year-old in stolen car, police say

An officer may not have noticed if the boy was driving in the right direction, police said.

(Salt Lake City Police Department) A 14-year-old boy was driving this stolen minivan the wrong way down 500 South, police said.

Many downtown Salt Lake City drivers make the mistake of pulling out onto 500 South and heading east, unaware that it’s a westbound-only street, Salt Lake City police detective Michael Ruff said.

But not many of those drivers are 14-year-old children.

“I’m guessing that you probably don’t know that if you’re 14,” Ruff said of the one-way street.

That’s exactly what happened early Friday, according to police. The car the child was driving also turned out to be stolen — something police may not have noticed had it not been headed in the wrong direction.

“One of our officers just happened to see him driving the wrong way and stopped the vehicle,” Ruff said. “And ended up finding out it was stolen and full of juveniles.”

The officer saw the minivan traveling east on 500 South between State and Main streets at about 2 a.m. When he pulled the vehicle over and approached, he discovered the driver was a 14-year-old boy and that there were five other children inside.

The minimum age to get a driver license in Utah is 16. “You’re not worried about driving without a license if you’re going to be in a stolen car,” Ruff said.

The car had been reported stolen in West Valley City. When the owner came to recover it, he told police about $6,000 worth of items were missing from the vehicle. Police did not specify what was missing.

The driver of the stolen vehicle was taken to juvenile detention. The five other children were released to “responsible parties,” Ruff said.