On a family road trip, one heroic 12-year-old girl faced a criminal and dealt with a threat that might’ve sent much older men running for cover. With more than her own life on the line, however, she used her brain to take action in the hopes of saving the ones she loves.
20. A family vacation like any other
It all started as what was meant to be a normal Easter weekend family vacation. Back in 2017, 12-year-old Maddie Weiler was in the car with her mother, Brandie, and little sister, Mollie, heading to an amusement park in Williamsburg, Virginia.
19. Good Samaritan
On the way there, however, the family witnessed a car accident on the side of the road. Being a good citizen, Brandie pulled over to help.
18. A strange character
Brandie hopped out of the car and called the police, while her two daughters stayed inside of the family van. Meanwhile, the driver responsible for the accident curiously ran from his car, as Maddie put it, “Dukes of Hazzard-style”.
17. A menace
The driver, 21-year-old Paul Salsman, approached the Weiler’s van. Out of instinct, Brandie knew he had bad intentions. She started screaming at him and shouting warnings to her girls.
16. Car thief
In seconds, Salsman approached the rolled-down driver’s side window, stuck his hand inside, unlocked the door, and scrambled behind the wheel. Maddie and Mollie could hear him talking to himself.
15. Unclear intentions
As Maddie recalls, the criminal was saying things like “Let’s go” and “I need to get to this place”. Salsman intended to steal the car, flee the scene, and take the girls with him.
14. A courageous girl
Understandably, little Mollie panicked. Maddie, on the other hand, kept a cool head. Coming from a family of police officers and firefighters, she had been taught how to react if someone ever tried to kidnap her.
13. A well-secured van
Maddie didn’t scream or throw her sister to the wolves. At that moment, the brilliant young girl remembered the van had a built-in safety feature: the car wouldn’t start if it was in drive.
12. A quick and smart girl
Maddie hurried to wrench the car into drive before turning her attention to the would-be carjacker. All she would think at that moment was: “He is a psycho and he needs to get out of the car.”
11. And tough!
To protect herself, her sister, and the family van, Maddie threw herself at Salsman. She punched him, she elbowed him, she bit him. Bruce Lee would’ve been proud.
While she incapacitated Salsman, Maddie’s sister, 7-year-old Mollie, un-belted herself and escaped out a back door. Maddie didn’t notice. She just kept up her attack on the criminal.
9. Mom in despair
From the street, Brandie watched this scene unfold in a flash. Once she saw Mollie getting out of the car, she screamed for Maddie to do the same, but her daughter was too busy beating the thief to realise that her sister was now safe.
8. Defeated attacker
Eventually, Salsman understood that his plan was not going to work. He opened the door and fled from the 12-year-old girl. Then, he tried to steal another car.
7. Bad guy out of luck
Bradie had called the police, and by the time the police arrived minutes later, Salsman had tried stealing three cars, including their own… But all attempts failed.
6. A future policewoman?
Police had to taser Salsman twice to get him to give up. Maybe they should’ve just called in Maddie to finish the job. She only had to fight him once!
5. Justice for all
Authorities charged Salsman with three counts of felony carjacking, felony hit and run, and driving under the influence of drugs. Maddie, though, didn’t make it out of the incident unscathed.
4. A true fighter
The young girl fought so hard that she broke a growth plate in her wrist that required a cast. Still, in a statement to police afterward, she clarified how she was able to apprehend a grown man.
3. A horse lover
Maddie loves riding horses and explained that if she can control a 1,500-pound animal, then she was sure going to try to take care of Salsman! Still, instinct played a huge role in her success.
2. Instinct indeed
“I was so hyped up on adrenaline, so I wasn’t really scared,” she told ABC News. “I knew what I needed to do. I was thinking about getting Mollie out and beating this guy up so he couldn’t start the car.”
1. Advice from a hero
In the end, Maddie offered advice to any other girls who might find themselves in her position: if someone tries to steal you or hurt a loved one, “just fight them”.
Source: Boredom Therapy