Vernal woman credited for saving boy from kidnapper

Save Story
Leer en español

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

VERNAL -- Authorities are crediting an alert driver in Vernal for foiling the attempted kidnapping of an 8-year-old boy. Shalyn Searle says she never thought twice about stopping to help the boy.

"He was screaming out, ‘Help me! Help me!' I could hear him from in my car with the windows rolled up," Searle said.

Kid Canal, where boy was fishing
Kid Canal, where boy was fishing

She was on her way home Sunday morning when she saw a man, later identified as 22-year-old Joseph Yump, grabbing a little boy who was fishing at Kid's Canal.

"He was kicking and screaming. The guy had him by the wrists and up here on the arm," Searle explained. "He lifted him up off the ground."

Searle pulled over, called 911 and got out of her car. Once the suspect knew someone was watching him, he let go of the boy and continued to go north on 1500 West. Minutes later, he was arrested a few blocks away at 500 North.

Vernal woman credited for saving boy from kidnapper

Searle says she was just concerned about the boy, who was visibly shaken up.

"The little boy told me, ‘I tried to jump in the water to get away," Searle said. "I was like, ‘You don't know him at all?' He said, ‘No.' Then he said to me that, you know, 'He said he wasn't going to kill me.'"

Searle has a concealed weapons permit and a gun in her car. She can't believe she was put in a situation where she thought about using it.

"It's something I'll never forget, that little boy's face," she said. "You see stuff like that on TV and you don't think it can happen to you. And I'm sure people don't think it can happen to their children."

The Uintah County Sheriff's Office says Yump is known around town for his strange behavior, but he has never done anything like this before.

Searle says it didn't surprise her that the boy was without a parent, because Vernal is seen as a small, safe town.


Story compiled with contributions from Nicole Gonzales and Adam Thomas.

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics



Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast