That afternoon, when news spread online about Adrian’s dangerous adventure, his parents and sister were lambasted on social media by outraged people who thought they should have been paying more attention. Adrian’s 16-year-old sister, Sidney Flores, who was babysitting, had taken a nap about 11 a.m. while her mom and stepfather were away at work, and that’s when her little brother decided to take the keys from a hook near the door and go after his dream.
“We thought he’d been kidnapped and we were all panicked,” said Sidney, speaking on behalf of her family because her parents understand limited English.
“I called my mom at work and she came rushing home, crying,” she said. “It never occurred to any of us that he would take off in the car by himself. How would he know how to do that?"
Nobody in the family had ever encouraged Adrian to drive, said Sidney, except for when he rode up and down the sidewalks in a battery-powered toy truck at age 2.
The public shaming was painful, she said, and made the family’s traumatic experience even worse.
“We all felt terrible about what happened — I never would have forgiven myself if something awful had happened to my brother or somebody else,” she said. “We gave him a real talking-to and he knows it was wrong.”
There were tears all around after Adrian’s safe return, she said, and the family knew they would probably hear more backlash.
“But then people started saying that my mom is not a good mother, and others thought that Adrian should be in jail,” Sidney said. “The one that hit us the most was when a lady said that she wished death on him. These people know nothing about what goes on at our house. They don’t know how hard my parents work. We could not believe how many haters were out there.”
At least one person, though, decided that something positive could come out of the frightening experience.
Jeremy Neves, 33, is an entrepreneur and philanthropist from Orem, Utah, who happens to own a matte black Lamborghini. When he heard about Adrian’s incredible — and potentially deadly — road trip, he reached out to the family and asked whether he could take the boy for a ride in his sports car.
“I was shocked that a 5-year-old knew how to get on the freeway, then pull over for a cop,” said Neves, who has a son about six months younger than Adrian.
“Hey, I was 12 when I took my parents’ car,” he said. “This kid is 5? I couldn’t believe it. I thought, ‘This kid is ambitious and has no fear.’ ”
Education and discipline are certainly appropriate in Adrian’s case, Neves said.
“But please, let’s not just focus on the bad,” he said. “Let’s not miss the gift and the genius of this little boy. He was determined, willing to do whatever it took to go after his dream. You don’t want that dreaming to stop.”
So on May 5, the day after Adrian’s joyride, Neves roared up to Adrian’s house in his Lamborghini Huracan and spent the next hour taking him and all of his family members — his mother, father, sister, aunts, uncles and cousins — for rides around their neighborhood in his sleek (and loud) sports car.
“It was an amazing experience for all of us,” Sidney said. “Just seeing the smile on my brother’s face was the best part.”
“Riding in the Lamborghini felt like a dream,” said Adrian's mom, Beatriz Flores, in Spanish, as her daughter interpreted. “It made us all feel good that this kind man went out of his way to make my son happy."
Adrian seemed shy at first about going for a ride, said Neves, but as soon as he fired up his luxury car, the boy couldn’t stop grinning and shouting, “Faster! Go faster!”
“It made my day to lift up this family,” Neves said. “I get a lot more joy in sharing my stuff with other people than in keeping it for myself. If you can make a kid smile, why not?”
Now that his family has hidden the car keys and put extra locks on the doors to prevent Adrian from attempting a repeat of his stunt, he will have to aspire to buy his own sports car someday, said his sister.
It’s a miracle that her brother wasn’t killed or the cause of a terrible car accident, she said. And highway patrol officers agree.
Trooper Rick Morgan, the officer who pulled over Adrian, initially thought that he was an impaired driver, slumped down in his seat, said Lt. Nick Street, a public information officer for the Utah Highway Patrol.
“He thought that maybe somebody was having a medical incident like cardiac arrest,” said Street. “He was not prepared for who he saw in the driver’s seat. [Adrian] was seated clear up to the edge of his seat, holding the steering wheel, and he had both feet on the brake pedal. The kid was extremely lucky that neither he or anybody else got hurt."
No citations were issued, Street said, and no charges were filed.
After Adrian was home safe, he received a scolding, Sidney said, then everybody cried, relieved that he was okay.
“He was feeling pretty sad — he knew he’d done something terrible,” she said. “He was really quiet until Jeremy drove up the next day.”
After a few spins around the block in the high-powered sports car, Neves said, Adrian warmed up enough to make him an offer.
“Adrian came over to me with his $3, and I said, ‘Are you trying to buy this car from me?’ ” Neves said. “He told me, ‘No, I want to keep my money, but you can give me the Lamborghini.”
“Smart kid,” Neves said.