SAN JOSE, Calif. - A San Jose father is speaking out about a frightening ordeal that happened after he left his 5-year-old daughter in his SUV while he went into a store with the car still running to get her a bottle of juice.
While he was gone, a man jumped into the vehicle on Saturday afternoon and took off with his sleeping daughter, Sadie Rae.
“Even before I was done paying,” Michael Machado said, “I looked and double checked to make sure everything was OK."
He parked directly in front of the Quik Stop on Leeward Drive and said he was in the store less than two minutes.
"Before I even got my change back, I looked to see if my truck was there,” Machado said. “And it was gone."
San Jose police say 30 year-old Martin Huerta jumped into the running SUV and took off with Sadie Rae still in the backseat.
"I just started freaking out,” Machado said. “I was going into hysterics. Luckily the gentleman behind me immediately heard, 'You have a little girl in the car?' Someone took off with my car. My little girl was sleeping. They immediately called the police."
A few blocks away from the convenience store, the carjacker pulled over and took Sadie Rae out of the vehicle and left her in the 1400 block of Chabot Way. The girl woke up and saw someone strange in the car, her father said. She was scared and started crying, but Machado said a grandmotherly type woman came out to help and call authorities.
San Jose police say Huerta drove a few more blocks to Barlow Avenue and ditched the SUV. They found him hiding in a neighbor's yard and arrested him on kidnapping, auto theft, and obstructing and investigation. Sadie Rae was reunited with her father.
The whole ordeal lasted 20 minutes but Machado says each second was agonizing and it completely changed his life.
"You can get over confident sometimes with your city and with how you feel in your neighborhood," he said.