A quick-thinking 8-year-old girl saved herself and her younger sister when a carjacker suddenly stole their father’s SUV at a Wisconsin carwash while they were still in the vehicle.
The carjacking unfolded on Sunday afternoon when Adam Jorgenson got a car wash with his two daughters, 8-year-old Charley and 2-year-old Autumn, at a Kwik Trip in Oak Creek, about 12 miles south of Milwaukee.
Jorgenson hopped out so he could grab a cloth after the wash and left the SUV running, then someone stopped him to ask for directions, he told NBC affiliate WTMJ of Milwaukee. That’s when he heard the screech of tires and saw his vehicle speeding off.
“I was scared,” Charley told the station. “I was like, ‘What’s happening?’”
“Then, he told me to get out and I was like, ‘What should I do? Should I run and be a scaredy cat or should I save my save my sister too.’ So I said, ‘What about Autumn?’” the little girl recalled.
Charley said she felt she needed to “do something.”
“I should try to kick him or defend myself and Autumn. But then, I was like, ‘I should stay in my seat and do nothing. Stay here, do the questions.’ But when I realized that dad had the key, I was like, ‘He can’t do anything without the key,’” Charley explained.
She said the driver asked where the keys were, and she said her dad had them.
The driver ended up ditching the car about a mile up the road at Batteries Plus Bulbs. That’s when Charley grabbed her dad’s phone from the front of the car, called her mother and left a voicemail.
“Mom,” she’s heard saying in the frantic voicemail. “I need you! We lost Dad!”
Autumn can be heard in the background saying, “Where go dada?”
Back at the Kwik Trip, Jorgenson had called 911. At the same time he was on another phone with his wife who was tracking the girls using Adam’s iPhone location, who saw it stopped at the Batteries Plus Bulbs.
Eventually, police located the girls at the store and reported that the children were safe and unharmed.
“I ran as fast as I could out of the back of that cop car to hug them,” Jorgenson told WTMJ.
He said he’s sharing his story to warn other parents about how dangers lie in even the most routine activities.
“It’s pretty darn simple,” Jorgenson told WTMJ. “In the winter, you come outside with your groceries and you have your two little kids. You want to put them in the warm car and go take your cart back to the corral. That’s not the right order anymore. Your kids might need to be cold for a few more minutes outside with you before you start your car and put them in it. It took two seconds for me to respond to somebody and then to sneak in.”
Oak Creek Police said three people — aged 17, 20 and 21 — were taken into custody and are facing multiple felony charges. Police said they’re building a strong case for the district attorney’s office in the matter.
Carjackings have risen nationally in recent years, surging 93% from 2019 to 2023 across 10 U.S., according to a report published last month by the Council on Criminal Justice.
In nearby Milwaukee, police said in October that armed carjackings were up 36% over the last three years.