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Quick-thinking Utah sister saves siblings from carjacking

(Aubrey Clark, KSL TV)

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Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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SOUTH SALT LAKE — A quick-thinking young woman foiled a carjacking and saved her three young siblings from a terrifying situation in South Salt Lake Tuesday night.

Police say Christopher Patrick Medina-Izarrara, 27, ripped the young woman out of the driver's seat and tried to steal her Hyandai Elantra with her siblings — ages 12, 10 and 9 — in the back seat. The incident began about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday when Medina-Izarrara got into an argument with another woman in a car at the intersection of Main Street and Sunset (2797 South), according to South Salt Lake executive officer Gary Keller.

"Our suspect had some type of argument with (a woman), and she claims he got mad," Keller said. "He must have gotten out of the car (while they were stopped at the intersection), and then she locked the doors and she left."

Keller said Medina-Izarrara punched a patrol car parked in the north parking lot of the South Salt Lake police station, which just happens to be on that corner.

"Then he went into northbound traffic and started trying to stop traffic and trying to get into people's cars," Keller said. "(The 18-year-old) is driving north in a car, and she has her three younger siblings (in the back seat)."

In an interview Wednesday, that young woman described watching Medina-Izarrara trying to get into vehicles.

"We were just driving. It looked like he was flagging people down," said Joanna, who declined to provide her last name. "I was really scared."

Medina-Izarrara approached the car driven by Joanna and pulled open the door, Keller said.

"He went straight to the driver's side door and started trying to open it," Joanna recalled.

"She tried to lock the door, but she was unable to lock the door in time," Keller said. "He got the door open and actually pulled the 18-year-old female driver out of the car, and then got into the driver's seat."

The driver of a white truck saw what was happening and pulled in front of the 18-year-old's car, blocking its path, Keller said.

"At this point, (the 18-year-old) said she was able to lean over and get the keys out of the car, which I don't suggest anybody do," Keller said, "but it was quite a brave act on our victim's part."

Joanna said that was her goal from the time the man pulled her out of the car.

"The main thing I was thinking is, 'I can't let him take them. I just can't let him, because I probably won't see them again if I do,'" she said.

Explaining what prompted the act of bravery, she said, "I'm their sister, that's what you do. You help protect them."

About the same time this was happening, several officers were pulling into the South Salt Lake Police Department's south parking lot, and several people alerted police to what was happening.

Medina-Izarrara got out of the Elantra and ran up to the truck blocking the car's path and began beating on the door and windows, Keller said. The 18-year-old then got back into her car and drove away.

Moments later police approached and found two women trying to restrain the Medina-Izarrara, he said.

"I don't know where they came from," Keller said. "If they were good Samaritans, passersby, or someone who knew him."

As officers were commanding him to get on the ground, Medina-Izarrara broke free from the women and tried to run but was stopped by police, according to Keller. He continued to resist, Keller said, and eventually police used a Taser to subdue him.

Medina-Izarrara fell and hit his head and had to be treated for a cut by medical personnel before police took him to the Salt Lake County Jail. He was booked for investigation of aggravated robbery, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct, Keller said.

Contributing: Dan Rascon, KSL TV


Amy Donaldson


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