A family that tailed the car wanted in a Springfield, Massachusetts, kidnapping Wednesday described the tense chase that eventually helped led to the girl's recovery and her alleged abductor's arrest.
Benny Correa was with wife and three young children when they spotted a dark blue Honda with distinctive rims that was part of an Amber Alert after the kidnapping of the 11-year-old girl, who was taken after walking home from the school bus.
“My wife showed me a picture on Facebook and, when she showed me the picture, he passed right in front of me and I noticed the wheels automatically,” Correa said.
He could see the girl being pushed down in the back seat of the car, as well. They're being hailed as heroes by the victim's families, but Correa said that, as parents, they felt compelled to help.
"That’s all I kept thinking. If that [child] was mine, I’d do whatever," he said.
They chased the car from Springfield to Chicopee, Mass., and called police along the way, but the driver behind the wheel of the Honda was evasive.
"He tried to evade me. I chased him behind a building and I reversed into oncoming traffic and I blocked him. He jumped over a curb and we just took off," he said.
Video that Correa's wife, Amanda Disley, shared to Facebook (warning: graphic language) shows the chase going on while they appear to be on the phone with police. At one point, they follow the car through a red light.
Thanks in part to their tip, 24-year-old Miguel Rodriguez of Springfield was stopped and arrested on the Massachusetts Turnpike between Auburn and Sturbridge Wednesday night.
The girl was found safe in the car, and her family offered special thanks for Correa and his wife, Amanda Disley, when they released a statement on their ordeal Thursday and offered praise for everyone who'd assisted them in the prior day.
"In particular, we’d like to thank Amanda Disley and her husband for their vigilance and courage for putting themselves in harm’s way to make sure she wasn’t out of their sight," the family said.
Hampden County District Attorney Anthony Gulluni suggested that “people were paying attention" to the case: "I think there was an emotional response given the fact that this was a young girl.”
Rodriguez’s criminal history also came to light Thursday at his arraignment, where he pleaded not guilty to charges including kidnapping.
Explosive court documents show in 2018 that a relative of Rodriguez’s filed a restraining order against him alleging that he “caused [her] to engage in sexual relations by force, threat or duress.”
She also said he had sexually assaulted her when she was just 13 years old.