A Virginia mom, Brandie Weiler, was driving her daughters to Busch Gardens when they witnessed a car accident along John Taylor Highway. She left her girls, Maddie, 12, and Mollie, 7, in the van to check on the victims and call 911.
As soon as Brandie had walked away, a man from the car that had caused the crash slowly approached the van.
A dangerous situation
Maddie reacted quickly and locked all the doors, but the man stuck his hand through the window to unlock the van and got in.
The man tried to drive away with them saying things along the lines of ‘Let’s go’ and ‘I need to get to this place,’ but Maddie was determined to put up a fight.
She immediately put the van in drive to stall him and then, began punching and screaming at him with all her might, giving enough time for her little sister to escape.
When you’re in that situation, you just go. I would think most people would freeze but I was not about to leave my sister.
Maddie Weiler to PEOPLE
A clever plan
The man tried to defend himself but he ended up getting out of the car and approached another car to carjack. Just then, the police arrived and identified him as Paul Salsman. He was charged with three counts of attempted carjacking, hit and run, and driving under the influence of drugs.
Maddie’s father, Steven said that Maddie has always been told to “kick, scream, bite, hit, gouge out their eyes, whatever you have to do” if anyone attempted to take her. Coming from a family of police officers, Maddie and Mollie were trained on what to do in such situations but throwing the car in drive to prevent the engine from starting was something that even Maddie’s parents didn’t expect her to do.
I always knew she was something. She’s a different kid, she showed strength the other day. Strength I never knew she had, and I’ve been completely amazed.
Steven Weiler to PEOPLE
During the encounter, Maddie suffered a fractured growth plate in her wrist.
I was thinking about getting Mollie out and beating this guy up so he couldn’t start the car-doing anything I could so I could to save Mollie. If he took off with both of us or took Mollie, it would’ve been my priority was to get her out. I would’ve been heartbroken.
Maddie Weiler to ABC News
Courage comes from unlikely places
Maddie’s courage and cleverness stemmed from the need to protect her sister. At a time where someone could be paralyzed to react, she used all the skills she was taught to stop Salsman.
This story also encourages parents to teach basic self-reliance skills to their children so that they could defend themselves in times of need.
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Heroes come in all sizes
“Heroism is endurance for one moment more.”- George F. Keenan