Don’t walk by yourself.
And don’t go up to any strange cars — anytime, anywhere.
That’s the message a 17-year-old Riverhead High School student and her mother want to send out to other young people after the girl managed to avoid a potential abduction Wednesday morning as she walked to school.
“My shoulders hurt from my bags, and I was tired,” the girl told the News-Review Friday, recalling the ordeal. “If my parents didn’t raise me right and the man didn’t ask me those [strange] questions I might have gotten in that car.”
Had that happened, the mom said, the calls home from school “would have been quite different.”
The suspect, whom the girl described as a clean-cut man with a slight Spanish accent, pulled over in front of her on Osborn Avenue and rolled down his window. She said she took her earphones out and approached the car, thinking the man needed directions — like other people have in the past.
“Sometimes it’s the morning and people are looking for a place to get coffee. He first asked if I was in middle school and I said, no,” she said. “And then he asked if I was I was in the high school and I said yeah. And he asked me if I wanted a ride up.”
That’s when her suspicions kicked in.
“He had the window open and I was looking in the car [for weapons]. Making sure his hand was somewhere where I could see it,” she said.
She declined the ride and kept walking, only to see him drive off, but too fast for her to get a full license plate number.
He then pulled into the nearby Bagel Lovers parking lot.
She flagged down a sheriff’s deputy.
“I told him it was a black car and what he looked like and he went looking for him” while she went straight to school, she said.
School administrators and Riverhead police were soon notified, and took a statement from the teenager.
Being a young girl, she and her friends are used to cat-calls and comments, even from older men, she said.
“But this was very different; just odd. Someone in their pajamas asking teenagers if they need a ride? It’s just not normal,” she said.
She credited her parents for always making her wary of other people’s true intentions.
Mom said she was proud, yet still shaken up.
“I let my guard down and let her go to school alone,” she said. “And then this happened. Thank God she remembered everything we talked about.