‘I can’t let him take them': 18-year-old thwarts carjacking with siblings in back seat

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SOUTH SALT LAKE — An 18-year-old woman fought off a would-be carjacker to save her younger brother and two sisters.

“My main priority the moment he got me out of the car, either get the kids out or get the keys,” said Joanna, who did not want to release her last name in an exclusive interview with KSL TV. “I was really scared.”

The crime happened about a hundred feet from the South Salt Lake Police Station at 2835 South and Main Street on Tuesday night. Police say Christopher Patrick Medina-Izarrara, 27, got into an argument with his wife while driving down Main Street and got out of the car.

Police say he then stood in the middle of the road trying to waive down cars. That’s when Joanna was driving by with her siblings — ages ranging from 9 years old to 12 — in the back seat.

“I kind of honked and then he came straight towards my car. 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,” she said.

Joanna said Medina-Izarrara reached over unbuckled her seat belt and forced her out of the driver’s seat. He then sat down and was working to put it in drive when Joanna says she reached across him and turned off the car, and took the keys from the ignition so he could not go anywhere.

“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,’” she said.

Fortunately, at that moment, a man in white pick-up truck saw what was happening and drove his truck right in front of her car.

“He’s amazing; he did a lot. He helped a lot,” said Joanna. “I want to tell him thank you so much.”

That was my main priority the moment he got me out of the car, either get the kids out or get the keys.


Bystanders then began to bang on the windows at the police station and officers came out and arrested Medina-Izarrara.

Police are calling Joanna a hero for her actions.

“It’s heroic, courageous,” said South Salt Lake executive officer Gary Keller. “A second later and he got that car in gear ... who know how far he would have (dragged) her. Who knows what would have happened to the family in the car or that victim.”

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