Published: Jun 29, 2011 8:02 PM EDT
Updated: Jun 29, 2011 7:02 PM EDT

ADELANTO, Calif. (AP) - An 11-year-old boy's California highway drive landed his mother's boyfriend in jail, with investigators saying that the man coaxed the youngster to follow him through the Mojave Desert.

San Bernardino sheriff's officials said Wednesday that 51-year-old Terry Michael Varner was charged with willful cruelty to a child resulting in possible injury or death.

He was arrested Sunday and remained jailed with bail set at $100,000.

Sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller says dispatchers were notified at about 12:52 p.m. Sunday of a reckless driver, and some callers said a child was behind the wheel.

A deputy pulled the car over, and another vehicle in front of the child driver also pulled over. But a sheriff's report says that vehicle quickly left.

Authorities say they later discovered Varner was behind the wheel of the second vehicle.

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