CHESTERTON — Police say two foster children are unharmed after one — age 7 — was grabbed Wednesday morning from the local Boys & Girls Clubs of America and rushed away in a van driven by their mother, who led police on a chase for several miles.
Chesterton police were called out at 10:15 a.m. to the club at 521 W. County Road 1100 North for a report of a kidnapping.
Officers were told an older juvenile rushed into the club, grabbed the 7-year-old boy and fled in a white van, police said.
Staff at the location had all safety measures in place, and employees were present with the children at the time of the incident, said Alison Martin, vice president of philanthropy for the Chesterton Boys & Girls Club.
Martin said both children were members of the club and were both inside at the time of the incident.
"The older child received a call on his cell and went into the program area where his younger sibling was located. He took his brother with him and ran outside. A staff member followed the children. This staff member reacted quickly and instructed another staff to call the police immediately when he realized they were running toward a waiting vehicle," Martin said. "We are appreciative of the Chesterton Police Department and their quick response to ensure these children are in safe custody."
Martin added that the club's doors are locked at all times and visitors are only allowed entry by a staff member.
Police said they located the van, but the driver was unwilling to stop. The chase led to westbound U.S. 20, where the van drove recklessly to avoid police, including driving into the oncoming lanes, police said.
During the pursuit, a juvenile opened the rear doors of the vehicle and waved to police for help, according to the department. The van stopped at Ind. 149, and the adult female driver and male passenger were questioned.
The driver, who is from New Hampshire, is the biological mother of the two juveniles, police said. The two children recently were removed from her care and placed in a foster home for prior unrelated incidents.
The investigation is ongoing, and the children have been returned safely to the care of the Indiana Department of Child Services, police said.
Charges may be forthcoming, said Chesterton police, who were aided by officers from other departments.
Martin said police were contacted right away.
"Our staff was very attuned to what happened," Martin said. "Kid safety is a priority, and I am glad our staff acted quickly and that all of the kids are safe."
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