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Missing Michigan teens found safe

  • Braxton Wood, Jayden Thomas found in SUV in Chicago
  • Pair had been missing since August 26
Missing Michigan teens found safe

Michigan teens: Hearts, hormones & 1 helluva ride

Michigan teens: Hearts, hormones & 1 helluva ride

Two missing Michigan teens have been found safe in Chicago, Illinois, authorities said.

Braxton Wood, 14, and his girlfriend Jayden Thomas, 13, were found around 10 a.m. ET Sunday on the north side of the city in Wood's parents' 2005 black Ford Explorer, according to police spokesman Officer John Mirabelli. Police say the SUV was out of fuel next to a gas station.

Read more: Teen lovers on run after stealing parents' SUV

The pair drove from Isabella County, located about 160 miles northwest of Detroit, on August 26 with about $80 in cash.

The teens' families were initially upset because authorities did not issue an Amber Alert.

"Jayden don't know how to drive. Braxton don't know how to drive," Kelly Drinkwine told HLN affiliate WNEM. "It's a cruel world. There's mean, horrible people out there. And they're two babies. Two babies by themselves trying to take on the world."

Authorities said there were no indications that the teens were in imminent danger. Last week, video cameras captured the SUV crossing the Mackinac Bridge, and cell towers in Bay City and Saginaw pinged the teens' cellphones.

The teenagers' families told HLN that they had concerns about the couple's relationship and believe that is what motived them to runaway. They hired a private investigator to try and help track them down. But it was a man in Chicago named Mark Zipperer who stumbled into them less than an hour after watching their story on TV.

"I made eye contact with (Wood), vaguely remember seeing his picture on the news," Zipperer told HLN's Christi Paul. "I turned around to watch where he walked. He walked right into and got into that black SUV. I remember one of the mothers saying it was a black Ford Explorer. And, sure enough, there was the car in the parking lot. I walked to the back of the car from a distance and saw the Michigan plates, and that's when I had a really high suspicion that these were the kids."

Zipperer then called police. The officer gave him a thumbs up after making the positive ID. "I don't have any kids, but I cannot imagine what their parents were going through after that long of a period of time," Zipperer said on HLN's Raising America. "And as the police were there and more cars were showing up, I went out to the Facebook page that was set up, found the number of their private investigator and called them right away just so word could get to the parents as soon as possible."

Monday morning police said the teens' parents had been notified and were enroute to Chicago to pick them up.

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