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East Grand Forks teen falls asleep in minivan, wakes up in 'scary place'

Kayla Thompson was tired and not feeling well Monday. So she lay down and took a nap on the middle seat of her family's minivan that was parked while her mom was running an errand.

Three hours later, the 16-year-old from East Grand Forks woke up alone in the van. She looked outside and saw other cars but had no idea where she was.

"I thought it was a junkyard," she said. "I thought I was in a movie at first because it looked like a scary place to be."

Thompson eventually established that she had not been kidnapped and that the van had not been stolen. It turned out that she was in the fenced compound of towing company in East Grand Forks.

The van, which has windows that are somewhat tinted, had been towed from a parking lot at her grandma's apartment building where her mom was getting clothes, Thompson said.

With Thompson and the keys left inside, the van had been parked in a reserved spot for about 10 minutes, so the building management had requested that the vehicle be towed, said Thompson's aunt, Dawn, who was there when Thompson's mom discovered the van and her daughter were missing.

"We came out and the van was gone," Thompson's aunt said. "We're like, 'Did she take it? What happened? Did somebody else take it?'"

Thompson's mom and aunt weren't able to reach her on her cell phone. They also tried contacting her friends, hoping to find her. Her aunt said they did not call the police because they did not know if her niece, who doesn't have her driver's license, had taken the van.

When Thompson woke up, she checked her cell phone and found text messages from her mom and aunt. She called them crying, asking "Where am I? Where am I?" her aunt said.

The owner of the towing company, Stuart Minske, said the van was brought to his business, Stuart's Towing, by Randy's Towing, a Grand Forks outfit that has an agreement with Minske to use his lot.

When Stuart's Towing learned that Thompson was in one of the vehicles on its lot, an employee found her and let her out of the compound, Minske said.

"It's not the first time it's ever happened," Minske said of a vehicle being towed with someone asleep inside. "And it ain't going to be the last."

Messages left for the owner of Randy's Towing were not returned Wednesday.

Thompson's family reported the matter to the East Grand Forks Police Department which determined that a crime had not been committed because the tow truck driver had not purposely taken Thompson with the van, Chief Mike Hedlund said.

Reach Ingersoll at (701) 780-1269; (800) 477-6572, ext. 269; or send e-mail to