While her frantic mother wondered where she could be, 3-year-old Elisha Lynn Tippett was taking a 90-minute tour of Thousand Oaks on Thursday from the back seat of a stranger’s car.
The adventure began about 11:45 a.m. when the barefoot Elisha wandered outside her family’s condominium in Newbury Park, crawled through an open window of a parked car, and fell asleep in the back seat.
The car’s driver, visiting in a neighboring home, drove off a few minutes later unaware of her stowaway.
After making several stops, the unidentified driver visited a friend’s house on Uppingham Drive in north Thousand Oaks.
When she returned to her car to put some items in the trunk, she noticed Elisha in the back seat.
Retracing her steps, the driver returned to Elisha’s home on Paseo La Perla and spotted the little girl’s mother, Tanya Irby, standing in the front yard.
“My heart just stopped, I was so happy to see her,” said Irby, 26.
“After an hour and a half everything runs through your mind.”
Irby said she had called the 911 emergency line about 11:50 a.m. after her 5-year-old son told her that Elisha had wandered outside.
During the search, a helicopter circled overhead while 11 sheriff’s deputies combed the neighborhood looking for signs of the little girl.
Two deputies with police dogs and a search and rescue team also were called to help, officials said.
Irby said her daughter had tried to crawl through several open car windows recently but had not managed to get inside until Thursday.
Elisha was thirsty when she returned home but suffered no other ill effects, her mother said.
Several hours after the commotion had subsided, Elisha was “dancing around the house like nothing happened,” Irby said.