PENNSAUKEN (CBS) — It was Tuesday morning, at 7;44am. Connie Espitia was on her morning routine, taking her girls to school.
Her oldest, 16, catches the bus to high school at the Rt. 38 Saigon shopping plaza. She said goodbye without incident.
But when Espitia got out of her minivan to put her youngest daughter Emily’s’ hair in a ponytail for school, it took her 3 seconds to walk to the opposite side of the vehicle.
“When I opened the door I could see him thru the glass, I saw a scary face,” said Espitia.
That fast, the Pennsauken mother’s heart sank.
Her van was running, and the strange man got in on the drivers side, locking her two youngest daughters inside, in the back seat.
“I was screaming at him to get out get out he kept driving,” said Jennifer, who is 11-years-old.
“I said ‘let me get my kids out, let me get my kids out’ he didn’t do it.”
Espitia banged on the glass window, and tried the doors, but they were locked. Espitia ran with her moving minivan, shouting at her girls to get out.
“She was reaching and trying to get the keys out of the switch, I said ‘don’t worry about the car, don’t hit him let’s go he’s taking you,'” Espitia said.
From the back seat, Jennifer was hitting the man with a water bottle, which finally broke.
“I had to, the person was grabbing onto my hand he would not let me go,” said the little girl who was shaken by the incident.
And six-year-old Emily un-buckled her seatbelt, and unlocked the back door.
“I just got her and put her on the ground, I don’t know how,” said Espitia.
“I thought he was going to drive away and take my sister I was scared,” said Emily
Jennifer jumped out of the moving van before the man exited onto Route 38 driving towards Camden.
How lucky were they?
“Extremely lucky” remarked Lt. Eric Davies of Pennsauken Police, who are reviewing surveillance video and want anyone who sees the family’s 2000 Mazda MPV Minivan, green in color, with NJ Plates “JFM-81L” to call police.
“We don’t believe he was armed, but if he could do this to her mother and her children, victimize them, traumatize them, then he’s really capable of anything.” said Davies.
“I hope they catch the guy because he almost kidnapped us,”said Jennifer.
“They are my life, they mean everything to me. She (Jennifer) helped me save her sister and save herself that day.”
Espitia says she is thanking God that her daughters escaped this frightening ordeal unharmed.
Anyone with information about the white male suspect, 5’2 with green eyes, who was wearing a grey sweat suit, and white jacket with checkers on the sleeve, is urged to call police.
Reported By: Cydney Long, CBS 3