An 11-year-old girl who was sitting in the backseat as her father fueled up the car had to make a split-second decision when a hijacker suddenly jumped in the driver's seat and started to peel away.
Police say it was early in the morning when Mark Beasanski pulled into a BP gas station on North Eola Road to refuel, according to WGN. Suddenly, someone ran from the passenger seat of a nearby Dodge Charger and slid into the driver's seat of Beasanski's vehicle, where his daughter was still in the backseat, the Chicago Tribune reported.
"I started punching the window, letting him know my kid was in the car. She was screaming, but he didn't even look back. He didn't care," Beasanski told the Chicago Daily Herald. "You just don't expect someone to jump into the car. There are crazy people out there."
Surveillance video captures the stolen Jeep zooming out of the gas station as the Dodge waits next to it. As the hijacker makes a hard left, the back door swings open and the child tumbles backward onto the pavement before quickly getting up. While this is happening, her father is seen leaping onto the hood of the Dodge, which speeds out of the station to follow the Jeep.
A few seconds later, the dad walks back into the frame and the two embrace before walking back toward the pump.
Illinois State Police spotted the stolen Jeep about an hour later and began a chase, which ended when the alleged hijacker crashed the car, NBC Chicago reported.
Officers arrested 20-year-old Tyrelle L. Pulley and charged him with felony aggravated vehicular hijacking, aggravated unlawful possession of a stolen motor vehicle and fleeing and eluding police, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
Beasanski told the Chicago Daily-Herald his daughter was rattled and got a scrape on her ankle but was otherwise unharmed. "You feel helpless. You can't do nothing about it. A person versus a car, it's not very easy to win it," he told the paper.
“I would like to express how relieved I am that the little girl involved in this crime is safe,” DuPage County State’s Attorney Robert Berlin said in a statement to the Chicago Sun-Times. “Her quick thinking and courage to jump out of a moving vehicle may be what kept a terrifying situation from turning tragic.”
Police say the most effective way to stop car thieves is to lock the car door when you're not in the driver's seat.
"The advice is to turn your car off and take the keys with you, and lock your car if you need to go into the station to pay or do something," Aurora Police Sgt. Eric Westrom told the Chicago Daily Herald. "Especially if you're going to leave kids in the car, make sure the vehicle is locked."
Police are still looking for the accomplice in the Dodge Charger and encourage anyone with information to call 630-256-5500 or Aurora Area Crime Stoppers at 630-892-1000.