‘Beyond Brave': Teen Hailed as Hero for Protecting Mom, Sister During Stabbing at Escondido Home

An Escondido woman said her mother and two siblings were stabbed earlier this week by a cousin who lives next door to them

Left to right: 16-year-old daughter, mother Carmen Hernandez, daughter Catherine Hernandez, son Alberto Suarez.
Courtesy of Family

An 18-year-old man is being credited with saving his mother’s life after he stepped into action to try to protect her and his younger sister when another family member stabbed them all inside their Escondido home.

The North County family of four is grateful to be alive and hoping for the swift recovery of their matriarch after the Monday morning stabbing left her hospitalized with serious injuries to her eye, according to the woman’s eldest daughter, Catherine Hernandez.

The violence began sometime before 10:45 a.m. when her mother, Carmen Hernandez, whose family lives just next door, heard an argument between two relatives on their patio. Carmen Hernandez went to investigate the confrontation and asked 34-year-old Abdiel Sarabia why he was hitting his sister, according to Catherine Hernandez.

“My mom heard my cousin outside yelling and she goes outside to see what's going on and she sees that my cousin, Sarabia, is standing over his sister,” Catherine Hernandez recalled.

Shortly after being questioned by Carmen Hernandez, Sarabia turned his anger toward her. The woman’s 18-year-old son, Alberto Suarez, pulled Carmen Hernandez to safety inside their home and locked the door while his 16-year-old sister called police.

Despite the door being locked, however, Sarabia forced his way in with a knife and began attacking the family, according to Catherine Hernandez. While their mother was being attacked, Suarez tried to fend off the suspect and take his attention.

“He was willing to risk his life for my mom,” Catherine Hernandez said. “He pulled the attention away from my mom and he told him, ‘Hurt me instead.’ I mean, he's beyond brave."

Catherine Hernandez, who was not at home at the time, said her younger sister was stabbed on the head, brother Suarez was stabbed at least seven times and their mother suffered stab wounds to her hand, nose, cheek and eye. Doctors are now doing whatever they can to salvage the woman’s eye.

"They said that she could be able to recover her eyesight, so we're feeling very, very happy about that,” Catherine Hernandez said. “But things aren't 100% so we're still waiting to see."

Carmen Hernandez, a single mother of four who works at a fast food restaurant, remains in the hospital.

Sarabia, meanwhile, was arrested. The incident left the family wondering what caused the violence, they said.

“We honestly don't know why he did what he did,” Catherine Hernandez said. “He had never been violent with any of us.”

If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence hotline for help at (800) 799-SAFE (7233), or go to for more. States often have domestic violence hotlines as well.

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