Intrepid curiosity is a quality to be nurtured in children as they explore the outside world, pushing back the boundaries of what they know.
But, as a heartwrenching case in Missouri shows, that same life-affirming force can so easily lead to tragedy without proper supervision.
Two brothers aged just six and seven died on Friday afternoon in the state’s rural Jackson County after their unchecked inquisitiveness led them to steal, and then crash, their grandmother’s car.
The two boys somehow managed to get the keys to the vehicle before driving off in it through a field near the residence and onto a county road, Missouri Highway Patrol spokesman Sgt. Andy Bell said.
The elder brother was at the wheel at the time of the fatal accident, around 4.20 p.m., according to the Highway Patrol’s crash report.
The seven-year-old lost control of the car as it careered over an embankment and down into the bed of a creek before catching fire.
The vehicle, a 2007 Buick Lacross, was heading east on East Blue Mills Road near Kansas City when it came off the right side of the road and hit the ground before becoming airborne.
After striking a guardrail, the car became airborne a second time, hitting a guywire before starting to overturn. The vehicle then slammed into a tree, eventually landing on its roof and igniting.
Both boys, neither of whom were wearing seatbelts, were pronounced dead at the scene.
The Jackson County Sheriff’s Department are still investigating how the brothers, who are yet to be named, were able to gain access to the vehicle and drive it away with such tragic consequences.