An 8-month-old Bartow County baby was returned to his mother safely Wednesday thanks to an Amber Alert response, police said.
But the child’s return was not without some frightening moments as law enforcement officials tried to stop 22-year-old Samantha Barrett, the alleged kidnapper of William Kaidyn Stover.
“She started ramming the trooper (pursuing her),” Lamar County Sheriff’s Sgt. Christopher Webster told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Barrett’s car went off the road and slammed into an embankment a mile west of I-75 in Lamar County, Webster said.
“I heard a big ‘boom’ outside,” said Nancy Turner, who saw the collision that ended the high-speed chase in front of her home near Barnesville. “She was running to my front door. I came outside and (police) were tackling her to the ground.”
William was safely returned to his mother, Kristen Howard, and Barrett — who Howard said had been her friend — was in police custody.
“We’re enemies, now,” Howard told reporters as she left Henry County police headquarters Wednesday evening. “I hope they light her … on fire.”
William was kidnapped from his home Tuesday night in his mother’s stolen car, police said.
“I was going to take my friend to the store, and I went inside to get a lighter,” Howard said. “I come back outside … the car’s gone.”
By midday Wednesday, thousands of people across metro Atlanta knew that police were looking for a gray 2003 Ford Taurus, as emergency alerts lit up mobile phones, highway traffic signs and digital billboards along roadways.
Around 12:30 a.m., Henry County police Sgt. Joey Smith said, a woman called 911 to say she saw the Taurus southbound on I-75 in Clayton County.
A man riding with Barrett got out of the car at some point during the pursuit, Smith said. That man cooperated with police and likely won’t face charges, authorities said.
Georgia state troopers led a high-speed pursuit that eclipsed 100 mph after Barrett was spotted, authorities said.
Police don’t take the risk of chasing a suspect with children lightly, Webster said.
“Very often, we will not pursue a car,” Webster said. “But this is a situation where this child has been kidnapped.”
Police said troopers and Butts County sheriff’s deputies used stop sticks — a strip of spikes that shred tires — to slow Barrett down.
“It decreased her speed quite a bit,” Webster said.
Authorities said Barrett got off I-75 at Ga. 36 and traveled about a mile before troopers attempted a maneuver to stop her on Upper High Falls Road.
After the wreck, police said Barrett tried to flee on foot.
“She got out of the driver’s side door and ran,” Webster said.
“The baby was not crying. He seemed to be oblivious to what was going on,” he said.
Howard said she is just happy to have William back.
“The way my car looks, I’m just glad my baby is alive,” she said.
Staff writer Mike Morris contributed to this article.