A California teacher's aide is being credited with stoping the alleged kidnapping of an 11-year-old girl on 16 October as she made her way to work. The Sutter Elementary School employee noticed her former student sitting in the vehicle of a man she did not recognise, Antioch Police Department revealed.
Sandra Ferguson told reporters that she suspected something was wrong, so she decided to ask the girl if the man, identified as 51-year-old Santiago Salazar, was her father. When the girl said he was not, Ferguson used her vehicle to block Salazar's vehicle and told the girl to get out.
"I said, 'Sweetheart, is that your dad?' She said, 'No he's a friend.' I said, 'No, he's not your friend!'" Ferguson told KGO. "I put my car in front of his and blocked him in. I told her, 'You get out of that truck right now!'" Ferguson then called police, who arrested Salazar on suspicion of kidnapping.
According to authorities, the girl had walked over to Salazar's vehicle around 7.40am PT and he had opened the passenger door for her. He then allegedly grabbed the girl by the wrist and dragged her inside the truck, ABC News reported.
The girl was not injured during the incident, police said. Police determined that Salazar was not related to the girl. He did not attempt to run away when he was placed in custody, The Christian Science Monitor reported.
Sutter Elementary School Principal Debra Harrington and the girl's family thanked Ferguson for her heroic actions. "Thankfully she was a guardian angel, preventing something terrible from happening," Harrington said.