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Quick-thinking 12-year-old halts a carjacker by using minivan’s safety feature

12-year-old stalls, beats up carjacker after activating minivan’s safety feature

year old stops carjacking maddie weiler

Maddie Weiler, badass

Why it matters to you

You don't have to be an automotive expert to halt a carjacker in their tracks.

Imagine you witness a car accident, and like a good Samaritan, you pull over and get out to check on the victims. As you do so, the man who caused the accident approaches your vehicle, which happens to have your daughters inside. It’s a horrible scenario that would frighten any parent, but thankfully for Virginia’s Brandie Weiler, her family was well-prepared.

Would-be carjacker Paul Salsman walked up to Weiler’s Toyota minivan, and although the doors were locked, he reached in through an open window to let himself in. Twelve-year-old Maddie and 7-year-old Mollie were understandably shaken.

“He was saying all these things like, ‘Let’s go’ and ‘I need to get to this place,” Maddie told local news station WTKR. Salsman tried to start the van and take off, but Maddie acted quickly by holding the vehicle’s shift lever in the drive position, which prevented the van from starting. Then, like any protective sister would, she issued a well-deserved smackdown.

“I just went for it,” Maddie said. “Nothing passed my mind except, ‘He is a psycho and he needs to get out of the car.’”

With the shifter still in drive, Maddie punched Salsman repeatedly while screaming for help. It was a side of her sister Mollie hadn’t seen before, but given they come from a family of police officers and firefighters, Maddie’s reaction wasn’t all that surprising. Except to Salsman, of course.

“I thought he was going to take us,” Mollie said. “It was amazing because she has never done that.”

Salsman was eventually charged with three counts of felony carjacking, along with felony hit-and-run and driving under the influence. Apparently, he had to be tased twice before being taken into custody. Maddie actually beat him down so hard she suffered a fractured growth plate in her wrist, but if she was in the same situation again, she probably wouldn’t do anything different. Her advice to other girls in the same position?

“Just fight them.”

Well done, Maddie. Well done.