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Vancleave minor, 14, critically injured in Jackson County after taking family car

JACKSON COUNTY -- A Vancleave Middle School student was driving his mother's SUV without permission when he got into a wreck early Monday morning and suffered critical injuries, Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell said.

Jackson County sheriff's deputies found the 14-year-old eighth grader shortly after responding to what was initially reported as an explosion in the 6500 block of Jim Ramsey Road.

When deputies got there shortly after the 1:22 a.m. call, they found the 2003 Chevrolet Trailblazer the teen had been driving on fire. Deputies determined the SUV hit a tree and went up in flames.

The minor, Ezell said, was thrown from the SUV and was still strapped in the car set when deputies found him.

The teen was airlifted by LifeFlight from the scene to the University of South Alabama Medical Center.

The name of the minor was not released.

Rhett Ladner, principal at Vancleave Middle school, said the school has not made any announcements to students about what happened since the minor has not yet been identified.

Ladner, however, said students close to the teen knew what had happened and school counselors provided assistance to them as needed.

"Our prayers are with the family," Ladner said.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation.