‘Brave’ 18-year-old snatches keys to save siblings from carjacker, Utah police say

Screengrag from KSL video

An 18-year-old Utah woman’s drive with her younger brother and sisters took a terrifying turn Tuesday evening when she spotted a man walking around in traffic, KTVX reported.

“She honks. He turns and goes to her car,” said Gary Keller, South Salt Lake Police Department spokesman, the Gephardt Daily reported. “While she’s trying to lock the doors, he gets the door open and she’s trying to hold it shut.”

The man yanked her from the driver’s seat onto the street and climbed in, KUTV reported.

The woman’s two sisters, ages 9 and 10, and brother, age 12, were in the back seat, the Gephardt Daily reported. She said her siblings were terrified by the attack.

The driver of a nearby pickup truck noticed the commotion and pulled in front of the woman’s Hyundai Elantra, blocking it in, KSL reported.

“At this point, (the 18-year-old) said she was able to lean over and get the keys out of the car, which I don’t suggest anybody do, but it was quite a brave act on our victim’s part,” Keller said, according to the station.

The would-be carjacker got out of the Hyundai while other bystanders alerted officers pulling into a nearby police station parking lot, police say, KSL reported.

Officers used a Taser on the man, identified as Christopher Patrick Medina-Izarrara, 27, after he tried to approach other vehicles, the Gephardt Daily reported. Medina-Izarrara fell to the ground, cutting his head and requiring medical care.

Police say Medina-Izarrara had earlier argued with a woman driving a vehicle in which he was a passenger, KTVX reported. She locked the doors and drove off when he got out.

Officers said he punched a patrol car in the police station parking lot in anger, the Gephardt Daily reported.

“Then he went into northbound traffic and started trying to stop traffic and trying to get into people’s cars,” Keller said, KSL reported.

Police say Medina-Izarrara may have intended to drive after the woman who had abandoned him, KUTV reported. He faces charges including aggravated robbery.

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Don Sweeney has been a newspaper reporter and editor in California for more than 25 years. He has been a real-time reporter based at The Sacramento Bee since 2016.