On her way to work Friday, Sandra Ferguson noticed something strange.
One of her former students at Sutter Elementary School, where she works as a teacher’s aide, was sitting in the front seat of a man’s car, wearing a look of fear, she told local media.
So Ms. Ferguson followed her gut – and says she thwarted the kidnapping of an 11-year-old girl.
When she first suspected something might be wrong, she says she asked the girl if the man was her father. He wasn’t. Pulling her car around to block the vehicle of the alleged kidnapper, Ferguson then 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, of Antioch, Calif., told KGO news. "I put my car in front of his and blocked him in. I told her, 'You get out of that truck right now!' "
Immediately afterward, Ferguson called the police. Officers arrested the 51-year-old Santiago Salazar on suspicion of kidnapping, authorities said Saturday.
“It was kind of like a superwoman power thing,” Ferguson said. “It was like, wow, I can’t believe I did that!”
Investigators say the girl had been walking to school, around 7:40 a.m., when Mr. Salazar pulled up and opened his passenger door. He tried to lure the girl in, and then allegedly used physical force. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her into his truck, but soon after, Ferguson intervened.
Reports suggest that Salazar, of Brentwood, Calif., did not try to run away when the police apprehended him. Police say he has no relation to the victim.
The girl was not hurt, and her family has personally expressed their gratitude for Ferguson. Debra Harrington, Sutter Elementary School’s principal, also has praised Ferguson for her heroic intervention.
"Thankfully she was a guardian angel, preventing something terrible from happening," Ms. Harrington said.