Heroic Teen Fights Off Carjacker, Saves Her 3 Younger Siblings In The Backseat

The 18-year-old said all she could think was, “I can't let him take them!”

April 19, 2019

Photo by: Mug shot of Christopher Patrick Medina-Izarrara [Salt Lake County]

Mug shot of Christopher Patrick Medina-Izarrara [Salt Lake County]

By: Mike McPadden

SOUTH SALT LAKE, UT — An 18-year-old Utah woman successfully fought off a would-be carjacker on Tuesday evening while her three younger siblings were in the vehicle’s backseat, according to police.

According to authorities, Christopher Patrick Medina-Izarrara, 27, was walking erratically in traffic at about 6:18 P.M., attempting to wave down cars. The teen driver, who has asked to be identified only as Joanna, said she honked at him, which prompted Medina-Izarrara to charge at her Hyundai.

South Salt Lake Police Department spokesman described the scene, saying, “She honks. He turns and goes to her car. While she’s trying to lock the doors, he gets the door open and she’s trying to hold it shut.”

From there, Joanna told KSL-TV, “He went straight to the driver’s side door and tried to open it. I was holding it shut and he finally got it open.”

Once inside, Joanna said the suspect unbuckled her seatbelt, threw her outside the car, and attempted to drive off. In a flash, Joanna said she reached back in, grabbed the keys, and pulled them from the ignition to make sure the vehicle wouldn’t start.

Joanna told the press that she just focused on protecting her younger siblings who were in the backseat — a brother and two sisters who range in age from 9 to 12. As she recalled, “The main thing I was thinking is ‘I can’t let him take them, I just can’t let him take them because I probably won’t see them again if I do.’”

A passing motorist in a white pickup truck saw the melee and used his vehicle to block the Hyundai from moving. Joanna expressed gratitude and said, “He’s amazing; he did a lot. He helped a lot. I want to tell him thank you so much.”

After being thwarted, Medina-Izarrara reportedly continued to harass other drivers. SSLPD spokesman Gary Keller told a reporter, “He went into northbound traffic and started trying to stop traffic and trying to get into people’s cars.”

The incident occurred approximately 100 feet outside the South Salt Lake Police Station. Witnesses quickly alerted a patrol car that was pulling into the parking lot. Officers gave immediate chase and, upon catching up with Medina-Izarrara, the suspect allegedly refused to comply with orders and had to be tased.

Police say that before the attempted carjacking, Medina-Izarrara had been fighting with his wife while riding in a car. In anger, he reportedly got out of his own vehicle and stormed off into traffic.

Medina-Izarrara is currently being held on multiple charges, including felony aggravated robbery.

Keller noted, “It was quite a brave act on our victim’s part. It’s heroic, courageous. A second later and he got that car in gear — who knows how far he would have (dragged) her? Who knows what would have happened to the family in the car or that victim?”

Read more: KSL-TV, KTVX, Fox News, The State

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