FLOYD COUNTY, Ga. - Three missing girls from Floyd County were found in Centre, Alabama Monday afternoon during a traffic stop with a 12-year-old girl behind the wheel.
Centre is about 30 miles away from the Rome area where the girl's disappeared early Monday morning.
"We're OK, thank you all," a woman, identified by Floyd County Police as the mother of 12-year-old Madison Pearson, told FOX 5’s George Franco.
They said Madison and her neighbor, 15-year-old Diamond Garrett, took the 2013 Ford Fusion belonging to Madison's mother around 1:30 Monday morning from the Rome area. The two girls also took Diamond’s 6-old-year sister Ateara with them.
"They could have met somebody or come across somebody who would have taken advantage of the situation completely," said Sgt. Rusty Williams, with the Floyd County Police Department.
Floyd County Police were searching for the trio until about 4:30 Monday afternoon when they got a call from Centre, someone had spotted the car at the Walmart. Investigators said the car was then trailed by a Cherokee County deputy.
When the girls drove past the Centre Police Department, the chief got involved. He told FOX 5 News he boxed the car to a stop a few hundred yards from the police department. He said he found 12-year-old Madison behind the wheel.
"The first thing I asked her was ‘Let me see your driver's license.’ She says ‘I'm 13.’ She's actually 12, actually 12 yeah. It's kind of dangerous, a 12-year-old driving, it's very dangerous just out joy riding," said Chief Kirk Blankenship with the Centre Police Department.
Floyd County Police said the girls apparently came to Centre to visit one of the girl’s relatives, but no one was home.
"Well we think since early this morning they were here in Centre," said Sgt. Williams.
Centre Police said local radio reports and social media played a big role in finding the three missing girls.
"It was shared all over the county and there were local people here sharing it as well so if they were here they were going to be found? Definitely," said Chief Blankenship.
"Make wise choices,” said the father of two of the girl, who did not wish to give his name. “With your kids, both parents try to work and this is what happens.”
Floyd County Police Department said it is unclear if any charges would be filed against the older girls. They also said this was a teachable moment for other parents to always be aware of their children's activities.