12-Year-Old Uses Van's Safety Feature to Stop Carjacker
Maddie Weiler put van in drive, then started pummeling 21-year-old suspect
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 18, 2017 12:36 PM CDT
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Maddie Weiler—Virginia's newest hero.   (Twitter)

(Newser) – Maddie Weiler has been given explicit instructions from her mom and dad on what to do if anyone ever tried to abduct her. The 12-year-old from Williamsburg, Va., got to put that advice to good use on Saturday when a man tried to carjack the van she and her younger sister were in as their mom tried to assist at the scene of a car accident, WSET reports. Maddie's mom was taking her and 7-year-old Mollie to Busch Gardens when they saw a car accident take place. Their mom jumped out to see if she could help, and that's when Maddie said a man came out of nowhere, stuck his hand through one of the vehicle's windows to unlock the door, and slipped inside. Maddie says she could think of nothing else "except he's a psycho and he needs to get out of the car," so she leaped into action.

First she took advantage of one of the van's safety features: She put the vehicle in drive so the man couldn't start the engine, then started yelling and punching him as Mollie fled. Cops intervened and nabbed the suspect, identified as 21-year-old Paul Salsman. A James City County Police Department rep says Salsman admitted to cops he'd taken LSD and smoked crack cocaine, WYDaily.com reports. Police say Salsman, who had to be hit with a stun gun twice before being taken into custody, was charged with felony carjacking (he's accused of trying to steal three vehicles at the scene), felony hit-and-run, and driving under the influence of drugs. Maddie did break a growth plate in her wrist during her ordeal, but Mollie is thankful her big sister took charge. "It was amazing," Mollie tells WSET. (A California mom jumped on the hood of her vehicle when a carjacker stole it with her kids inside.)

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