One woman noticed the kidnapped little girl mentioned in an Amber Alert in real time and jumped into action.

We all know the feeling of dread that comes over us every time we hear that loud beeping sound emanating from our phones: an Amber Alert notifying us of a nearby kidnapping.

Amber Alerts signal to us to be on the lookout for a missing child, and generally provide a few other details so that people can help track down and rescue the kid that is in danger. Most of us take note of the Amber Alert when it appears on our phones, anxiously think about our own children, and then forget about it for the rest of the day.

However, one woman in North Carolina went a step further: she found the car from the alert and chased it down. 

How One Little Girl Was Kidnapped by Her Own Mom

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Photo by Nabeel Syed on Unsplash

When we think about kidnapping, we often think about rescuing a child from a malicious stranger and returning them to their loving parents. However, the reality of kidnapping actually looks quite different. Usually, a parent poses a serious threat to their own child, if forbidden from having custody of visitation, and unlawfully snatches the child.

Sadly, about 5% of children in the US have experienced a parental abduction in their lifetime and 90% of the kidnapping incidents are conducted by a parent. 5-year-old Amani Jade Bruce, was one of these children who was taken by her own mother.

Crystal Beatrice Walston, 36, was recently hospitalized and forbidden from seeing her young daughter, Amani. At the time, Crystal was a danger to her daughter and the distance between the two was in place to protect Amani’s life. One day, a call came in from UNC Hospital in Raleigh, asking for help regarding a patient.

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The patient, who turned out to be Crystal, had become violent and fought at least two staff members to escape the hospital. She had successfully broken free and had stolen one of the hospital’s emergency vehicles.

The police acted quickly on tips, and soon discovered that Crystal was not alone on the run. She had abducted her young daughter Amani, had switched into a Lexus, and was again on the run. Authorities decided to issue an Amber Alert. 

How One Woman Proved the Importance of Paying Attention

Angela Coffey started her day and had dropped her own kids off with their grandmother for the day when she spotted the car described in the previous day’s Amber Alert. Instead of making a mental note of it and moving on with her life, she sprung into action.

She decided to chase the car, calling the police to let them know where she was, what she had seen, and what she was doing. She tailed Crystal’s Lexus for half an hour, staying on the line with the authorities so that they could keep track of the missing girl and apprehend her kidnapper. Amazingly, the police were able to catch up and rescue little Amani. 

Footage of the rescue and the story of Angela’s brave acts quickly went viral. While there is a lot of fear mongering about trafficking and child abduction, there is also knowledge that we have systems in place to stop terrible things from happening. If we pay closer attention to Amber Alerts and to our surroundings, we could potentially save a life — just like Angela did. 


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Paying attention can save a life.