The father of a young girl is praising his daughter for her calm and quick thinking after she called 911 when a woman jumped into the car she and her younger brother were sitting in and drove off.
“I’m very proud of her,” said Rodney Cole of his daughter, Malaiha Cole.
Malaiha, 8, and her brother Lincoln, 3, were sitting in their dad’s car with the air conditioner on while he made a quick stop at a store when a woman ran up to the car and drove away with the kids still in the back seat.
“She saw it running and she saw kids in it,” said Malaiha. “Then she just got in it and drove away.”
Rodney Cole, her father, took off running after the car but was unable to keep up with it after it ran a red light at a nearby intersection.
“I broke down in the middle of the street,” he said.
“I saw my dad coming out the store. Then I started banging on the window and I yelled ‘Daddy!’ but she rolled the window up,” said Malaiha.
Malaiha then remembered she had a cell phone that her father gave her for emergencies so she dialed 911.
“They said ‘911… What’s your emergency?’ And I said, ‘Oh my God. Me and my little brother got kidnapped,’” said Malaiha.
The 911 dispatcher then asked her what she saw through the windows. “I said, ‘I see signs that say Mexico Border,” she recalled.
Dispatchers were able to relay the information to authorities and police began their search for the vehicle.
The woman then threatened Malaiha that she would crash the car into a wall if she didn’t give her the phone.
As the woman approached the US/Mexico border, Border Patrol agents were able to stop the car and arrest the woman, who was later identified as Leslie Esperanza Saenz.
“The vehicle was attempting to cross the border into Mexico,” said San Diego police. “Police arrived at the scene and took the suspect into custody. The two juveniles and stolen car were recovered.”
“There were no injuries suffered and robbery detectives were on scene and are investigating,” they continued.
Saenz, 26, is facing multiple charges, including kidnapping, vehicle theft, and making threats.
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