A 3-year-old boy was found safe after a carjacker stole a minivan in which the toddler was riding Tuesday afternoon, police said.

Police spokesman John Elder said officers responded at 2:38 p.m. to a report of a crash at N. 26th and Lyndale avenues in Minneapolis, with the call later updated to involve a stolen vehicle. There, witnesses told police that the driver of the minivan came across the crash scene, which was blocking the intersection, and got out to see if he could help. The suspect, who was involved in the crash, then got in the running van and sped off.

"There was a 3-year-old child in the [van] at that time," Elder said. "This became a kidnapping case."

Investigators began putting together an Amber Alert, and neighboring agencies were notified. Police tracked the GPS on the phone of the child's father, which was in the vehicle. By 3:17 p.m. the vehicle was discovered at S. 23rd Street and 14th Avenue. The suspect was gone and the child was in the back seat. He appeared to have a minor injury, "likely from the suspect's erratic driving," Elder said.

The boy was taken to North Memorial Health Hospital as a precaution, where he was reunited with his mother. No Amber Alert was issued.

"This was an incident that could have certainly ended far, far differently, and we're thankful for the people that were at the scene that helped our original officers with information, people that comforted the father at the time," he said, adding that investigators working in other divisions immediately jumped in to help. "Everybody pulled together … and we're grateful for the outcome."

The suspect remains at large, but Elder said police believe they know who he is. There was evidence of drug use at the initial crash scene.

Staff writer Chao Xiong contributed to this report.