Car thief inadvertently kidnaps Fort Worth teen
FORT WORTH, Texas - A 13-year-old girl is safe after she was kidnapped during a car theft in far north Fort Worth.
According to police, the girl’s mother left the car running while she went inside a gas station. The girl was asleep in the backseat.
The mother said she had even parked at the front pumps so she could keep an eye on the car from the register, but it only took a minute or two for the carjacking, and possibly unintended kidnapping, to happen.
"Somebody stole my child. I thought somebody stole my kid," Nicki Howard said.
Howard's 13-year-old daughter, Hannah, offered to go to work with her Tuesday night, keeping her mom company as she drove around Fort Worth in her silver Toyota Camry, delivering food for Uber Eats.
The two stopped for gas at the QuikTrip on Basswood Blvd., west of I-35W, at about 3 a.m. while they were on their way home to Boyd.
Nicki Howard ran in to pay, while Hannah stayed warm in the car -- awake, but dozing off.
"And when I came back out, my car was gone. I panicked. Obviously I panicked," Howard said.
Fort Worth police officials say the minute the mom stepped inside the store, the driver of a gold Toyota Sienna pulled up next to her car at the pump, and a man from that car jumped into her driver seat, with Hannah asleep in back.
"Let her be okay. Let her be okay. That's all I really cared about," Howard added.
Hannah said she woke up to the car in motion, assuming - in a sleepy daze - that her mom was at the wheel.
She realized it wasn't her mother when the driver jumped out of the car while it was moving, and got into another car that was driving behind them.
Hannah knew that erratic behavior was uncharacteristic of her mother, but was half asleep and confused.
"I was so scared. I was like barely breathing," Hannah recalled.
Hannah says she got out of the car while it was still in motion, got into the driver's seat, and started to follow the suspect's vehicle - thinking it was her mother - until she had to slam on the brakes, which busted her lip.
"He put her in danger. The least he could've done was put the car in park instead of leaving it in drive while he jumped out," Nikki Howard said.
"All I have to say is God bless you, because that's not right. You need God," Hannah added.
The Howard's family car was totaled.
"My parents had just given me this car so I could go to school and I drive for Uber," Nikki said. "My bread and butter had been cut off."
"I love you and I'm sorry this happened to you," Nikki told her daughter
And police say the suspects were able to get away.
Police do not have leads on suspects at this time, but do have surveillance video of the carjacking. Police are not yet ready to release that video.