Two sanitation workers in Louisiana have been credited with saving a 10-year-old girl said to be in ‘imminent danger’ after she went missing from a family member’s home.
Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine of Pelican Waste & Debris were on their collection route on Monday, February 8, when they spotted a silver Nissan Altima in the middle of a field in St. Martin Parish.
The pair knew something was amiss, so used their refuse truck to block the car from escaping while they called the police.
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The previous day, 10-year-old Jalisa Lasalle had gone missing from the home in New Iberia between 1pm and 2pm local time. She had last been seen getting into a gray 2012 Nissan Altima, so police issued an Amber Alert detailing the car and expressed their belief that Jasila was in ‘imminent danger’.
The driver of the car was identified as 33-year-old Michael R. Sereal of New Iberia. Sereal was named as the suspect and police issued an arrest warrant for Aggravated Kidnapping, saying Sereal is an acquaintance of one of Jasila’s family members.
Merrick discussed spotting the vehicle in a video posted to Facebook Live, saying, ‘Something told me… I said, what’s that car doing off in the field like that? I blocked the truck in, [making] sure he couldn’t get out.’
After police arrived at the scene, Jalisa was found in St. Martin Parish and was evaluated by medical personnel.
People act like they see stuff but they don’t want to say nothing. But she’s safe now. Thank God man, because I got a little girl. I’m on my job doing what I got to do.
Merrick’s video showed footage of Sereal being led away from the silver car by police. At one point, he can be heard shouting, ‘Why are you doing this to me?’
The 33-year-old is being held at the Iberia Parish Jail without bond on charges of aggravated kidnapping of a child and failure to register as a sex offender, according to online jail records cited by ABC News. Sereal is listed on the New Iberia sex offender database for a conviction of carnal knowledge of a juvenile.
In a statement to ABC, Pelican CEO Roddie Matherne said the company ‘couldn’t be prouder of Dion and Brandon’.
In fact, all of our Pelican Waste team have been heroically working without fail during the pandemic quietly, professionally, and consistently serving the communities where we collect garbage & debris. They often respond in other ways while on the road. This was an exceptional thing that may very well have saved a little girl’s [life].
The investigation into Jasila’s case is ongoing.
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