It was the closest of calls.
A courageous and clever 8-year-old girl foiled her own kidnapping at the U.S.-Mexico border Monday when she called 911 from the backseat of her dad’s stolen car as her random assailant threatened to crash it.
Video obtained by KABC showed police stopping the vehicle with guns drawn as little Malaiah Cole and her 3-year-old brother were inching closer to the busy boundary line in San Diego traffic.
They were “probably less than two minutes away from actually crossing the border,” a witness told the station.
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Malaiah told KABC she knew the situation was dire when the woman who stole the sedan refused to stop. The plucky pigtailed girl grabbed the cell phone her dad gave her for emergencies and called for help.
“They said, ‘911, what’s your emergency?’ And I said, ‘Me and my little brother got kidnapped,’ ” Malaiah told the station.
“They said, ‘Where are you and what do you see?’ Then I said, ‘I see signs that say Mexico border,’ ” the little girl said of the harrowing experience.
Malaiah said the woman “tried to take the phone,” but the child moved away and evaded her grasp.
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“Give me the phone or I’m going to drive in circles and crash into the freeway wall,'” she said the woman threatened her.
The scary situation started in a San Diego parking lot Monday when the children’s father ducked into a retail shop to quickly purchase some hair supplies.
It was a heatwave, so he left the kids in car with the air-conditioning running, never expecting a random woman to jump behind the wheel and take off, KABC reported.
“She looked at the car and she saw it running and she saw kids in it. Then she just got in it and drove away,” Malaiah said.
Their frantic father, Rodney Cole, watched in horror as the car tore off and ran to stop it.
“I saw my dad coming out of the store, and I saw him banging on the window, but she rolled the window up,” Malaiah said.
Cole broke down crying as his daughter described the incident.
“I’m very proud of her,” he said, his voice cracking with emotion.
Investigators told KABC the Cole family does not know the suspect, who was taken into custody.