Santa Ana, CA – A Good Samaritan thwarted a kidnapping attempt by claiming the child as her own on Wednesday morning.
Twelve-year-old Amy Martinez was walking to Lathrop Intermediate School in Santa Ana at about 7:45 a.m. on Feb. 21 when a woman came up behind her and put her in a bear hug and then started walking her away, KTLA reported.
Amy said she screamed for help.
“She told me in Spanish not to cry, but I wasn’t even crying,” she said.
Police said that was when a woman driving down the street saw what was happening.
“She sees our suspect, who has our 12-year-old victim in a one-armed bear hug, dragging her down the street,” Santa Ana Police Corporal Anthony Bertagna told KTLA.
The Good Samaritan had just dropped her own child off at school, and police said she quickly developed a plan to help the little girl.
Cpl. Bertagna said that in her mind, she had five seconds to come up with something to save this child,
The woman pulled up beside Amy and her would-be kidnapper, and told her that Amy was her daughter, and to let the girl go, KTLA reported.
“I was thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to live,'” the girl said.
The Good Samaritan rescued the 12 year old, and gave her a ride to school, where they called police.
“I want to say thank you for saving my life, and you’re my hero,” Amy sent a message to her rescuer via KTLA.
Amy’s mom told the Orange County Register she was stunned when the school called and told her about her daughter’s close call.
“I have no way to describe how I felt when the principal told me,” Sandra Martinez said. “You don’t expect it to happen to you and when it does you don’t know how to react.”
The mother said she’s was happy the Good Samaritan saved Amy, but was perplexed that nobody else stopped to help the little girl who was obviously in distress.
“I’m glad she was there at the right time and the right spot,” she said. “But other people were seeing my daughter struggle and kicking and didn’t do anything. I’m just shocked.”
Police were able to locate the suspect, and took 34-year-old Claudia Hernandez Diaz into custody.
Hernandez was booked into Santa Ana City Jail on suspicion of kidnapping a child under the age of 14, the Orange County Register reported.