Dawn Colbert and her son Adam, of the Cambridge area, were spending a typical Tuesday together. They had gone to the flea market July 16 and then stopped at Cub Foods in Cambridge to pick up a few items around 12:30 p.m.
Adam, 11, said he felt like waiting in the car with their dog, Trixie, while his mom ran inside the store. He was sitting in the front seat of the car reading a magazine when a young woman got inside the unlocked car and started driving.
“I asked her what she was doing,” Adam said. “She told me she was driving the car to the front doors because, ‘your parents told me to.’ I knew that wasn’t right, so I just starting saying ‘no’ and honking the horn. She then asked me, ‘What are you doing?’ and told me I could get out of the car or stay. I opened the door and jumped out. The car was moving, but my adrenaline was pumping. I knew I wanted to get out.”
While the woman was fleeing the scene, she hit another vehicle with a woman and her two children inside it and then headed east on Highway 95. The mom and two children were not injured.
Cambridge Police put out the description of the vehicle over the radio. Shortly thereafter, North Branch Police said they were in pursuit of her. She eventually stopped when she drove the vehicle into a corn field just south of the high school in the city of North Branch and was arrested.
Jade Katherine Abney, 20, of Princeton, was charged with the following before Judge James Dehn in Isanti County District Court Thursday, July 18:
• Felony kidnapping – to commit great bodily harm/terrorize.
• Felony theft – take/use/transfer movable property without consent.
• Misdemeanor traffic accidents – driver fails to stop for accident to property – no injury.
Dehn set bail at $100,000 without conditions or $50,000 with conditions, and Abney’s next court appearance is scheduled for July 31. Abney has several charges pending from Sherburne Wright and Anoka counties relating to speeding, felony drug possession, felony drug sale, credit card fraud, shoplifting and theft.
Assistant Isanti County Attorney Stacy St. George praised Adam’s actions during the court hearing July 18.
“This 11-year-old boy is quite the hero,” St. George said. “When the defendant got into the car, she told him that his parents told her she could move the car. That is the worst fear a parent could ever have — having your child being lied to by an adult. Even with the car still moving, he bolted out of the car and sought help. He’s quite the kiddo. The defendant really made some horrific choices that day.”
Patrick Tepoorten, of Taylors Falls, happen to be walking by the scene in North Branch just prior to Abney driving into the corn field.
“I was walking east on Maple Street about a block from Grand Avenue when I saw the car go by at very high speed, with North Branch Police officers about five seconds behind,” Tepoorten said. “The driver attempted to take a left onto Grand Avenue, but was going way too fast and ended up in the corn field. North Branch Police converged very quickly at the scene, along with one county car, and the armed officers quickly pulled the driver from an area of high weeds at the west edge of the field. The North Branch Police did a superb job ending a potentially dangerous situation quickly and without incident.”
Mother, son speak out about the incident
Adam, who will be a sixth-grader this fall at Isanti Middle School, knew what Abney was doing was wrong.
“I knew right away when she first got into the car that I needed to get out and tell somebody,” Adam said. “The car was still moving but I just tucked and rolled, and jumped out. I then found a grandma in front of the store and told her what happened.”
Colbert then walked out of the store and noticed her car had been moved. She started walking around the parking lot and saw Adam.
“I started yelling his name and he ran toward me,” Colbert said. “He started telling me what happened, and I couldn’t believe he experienced something so awful. Once we knew he was OK, with the exception of some scratches, bumps and bruises, we then started worrying about Trixie’s safety, who was still in the car. It’s so hard to even fathom something like this can happen in this community. I’m very angry this woman had the balls to do something like this.”
Colbert said she and her husband Jeff, who have lived in the community for eight years, are very proud of their son.
“We knew as parents we instilled in him to do the right thing and to know right from wrong,” Dawn Colbert said. “We’ve always told him if you’re ever in a dangerous situation to get away and get out. I’m so proud of him. He kept level-headed enough to know what this woman was doing was wrong, to get out safely and tell someone.”
Jeff Colbert was able to retrieve their vehicle, a 2001 Subaru Outback, and it didn’t sustain damage. Their dog Trixie was also unharmed.
Dawn Colbert said she has previously left Adam in the car when she’d run into the store for a quick item, but always locked it.
“I’ve left Adam in the car before, but I’ve always locked the door,” Dawn Colbert said. “I don’t know why I forgot to do it this time. I feel so guilty — like I didn’t do enough to protect him. I’m real angry about this. Whatever she gets, she deserves. She needs to be accountable for her actions.”
Adam doesn’t ever remember being called a hero.
“It’s kind of flattering, and it feels good,” Adam said. “I know I did the right thing. The people at Cub are really nice as well. They gave me some Popsicles and water and gave me some ice for my hand that had been scraped up a bit.”
Prior to this incident, Adam said he has been enjoying a pretty routine summer of mountain biking, playing with friends, riding motorcycles, swimming, spending time at his grandma’s and camping.
Detailed account from the criminal complaint
On Tuesday, July 16, at 12:27 p.m., Cambridge Police were dispatched to Cub Foods in Cambridge on a report of a vehicle theft and hit and run at Opportunity Boulevard and Highway 95.
Cambridge Officer Jesse Peck made contact with the victims of the stolen car. As Abney was fleeing the scene, she rear-ended another vehicle carrying a mother and her two children. There was damage done to the vehicle; however, no one was injured.
After being read her Miranda Warning, Abney admitted to getting into the car with the intent to steal it because she wanted to get out of Cambridge.
Abney said she noticed there was a child inside the car when she started to pull away. Abney said she stopped to let the child out and then continued to pull away.
She denied that the child had to jump out of the moving car; however, she did admit she hit another vehicle and didn’t stop to see if those individuals were OK. She also admitted to knowing the police were behind her, but said she was, “scared and didn’t know what to do or how serious this was.”
Cambridge Police advised this is a scary reminder to never leave your children unattended in a vehicle or never leave your vehicle running while you run into the store. The outcome could have been devastating had the Adam not acted quickly.
Cambridge Police also offer a special thank you to the hit-and-run accident victim who called 911 and was willing to risk her safety to follow the suspect and update officers. Due to the actions of everyone, Abney was apprehended and all parties are safe.