A 13-year-old 8th grader at Nestor Language Academy said Thursday turned into one of the most terrifying days ever after she says a man tried to kidnap her after school.
She told her mother a man driving a bright blue car followed her slowly as she walked across Hollister Street to Iris Avenue after school in Nestor.
The teen said she had left school a little late that day, telling her mom, Olivia Mendoza, she had to stay to complete a test. Mendoza was set to pick her up just across the street from the school on Iris Avenue around 2:30 p.m.
Her daughter texted her right around 2:35 p.m. saying “Mama come pick me up, please hurry. There’s a man asking for my name so I went to one of my teachers to pretend she is my mom.”
Mendoza could not believe what she was reading.
“Go to the school. Right now,” she said.
“It was horrible,” explained Mendoza. “It was one of the scariest texts that I received. I even felt it was my fault because I wasn’t here on time.”
Mendoza said she was just two or three minutes away.
“It seemed like the streets were getting longer and longer, I couldn’t get here,” said Mendoza, describing her frantic rush to get to her daughter. “The worst just came, popped up in my mind.”
“I’m sorry,” she said as she wiped away tears from her face. “I couldn’t reach her. It was so scary, I would never want any mother, to feel the way I felt yesterday.”
Still reliving the fears of what could have happened, she said she is proud of what her daughter did to get away from the strange driver.
“She did what her older brother taught her to do,” said Mendoza.
Her daughter is the youngest of four siblings. Mendoza said her older son taught her youngest daughter that if anyone tries to grab at her or harass her, she should look for another adult in the area who looks like someone she could trust, and if she feels safe, then run to them like they are her mom or dad.
“She (the teacher her daughter spotted and ran to for help) saw what happened and grabbed her and took her back to school,” said Mendoza. “I felt so proud.”
Neighbors along Iris Avenue said they were shocked to hear about the driver approaching the 13-year-old girl.
“It is sad to hear something like that in my own neighborhood where I live,” said Austin Lopez. Lopez grew up in the neighborhood and even attended Southwest High School, which is feet away from Nestor Language Academy.
San Diego police are stepping up patrols in the neighborhood during the afterschool hours to keep an eye out for the driver.
“I am glad to see police are already taking steps to keep this from happening,” said Lopez.
“I can’t believe how sick people can be,” said another neighbor off camera.
The South Bay Union School District said they are working with police to determine what the next step is for them. The principal was also made aware of the incident, but Mendoza said no notices have been sent to families of students.
Mendoza wants her daughter’s story spread so that everyone can work together to stay alert and be on the look-out for the bright blue Nissan Altima-type car her daughter described the man driving. She said he was a man with dark black or brown hair and was wearing prescription glasses.
If anyone has information to help police in this case they can call the San Diego Police Department’s non-emergency line at (619) 531-2000.