A girl from Williamsburg, Va., used her knowledge of cars to prevent a man from abducting her and her sister over Easter weekend.
Maddie Weiler, 12, thwarted a carjacker’s attempt to steal her family’s van while she and her 7-year-old sister were sitting in the back row Saturday, WTKR-TV reports. Once the man was inside the car, he tried to start it, but Maddie began hitting him over the head and threw the van into drive so the engine wouldn’t turn over.
Amazingly, Maddie’s quick heroic action was only possible because she knew more about her parent’s vehicle than most people with a license know about their own.
“I put the car in drive because that is a safety feature on the van, and held it there,” Maddie told WTKR-TV.
The Weiler’s were on their way to Busch Gardens in James City County, Va., when they witnessed an accident at the corner of John Taylor Highway and Greensprings Road and pulled over to help. The girls’ mother Brandie was outside the van calling police when the man who caused the crash, 21-year-old Paul Salsman, reached inside the car, unlocked it and got in the driver seat.
Her father Steven said he teaches his girls to do “whatever you have to do” if somebody tries to take them, though even he was impressed by Maddie’s decision to hold the van in drive. She fractured a growth plate in her wrist from hitting Salsman, but that’s much better than the alternative ending to this story.
“This could have been an Amber Alert had it not been for her thinking,” Steven said, according to WTKR-TV.
Police said Salsman tried to take two other vehicles after the Weiler’s, and had to be tased twice before they took him into custody. He’s reportedly been charged with three counts of felony carjacking, felony hit and run as well as driving under the influence of drugs.
Thumbnail photo via Ford