Camryn Wood, 15, and her father, Chad, were out for a drive in Lacey, Washington, when an AMBER Alert popped up on her cellphone about a car containing a child who was just kidnapped. They were stunned to see the car right in front of them just after the alert came in.
"I mean it hit me," Camryn Wood told ABC News. "There was a chance that there could be a kid in there. If it wasn't, whatever. But if it was, we couldn't let them get away."
The drama unfolded Thursday at 10:41 a.m., when she received the AMBER Alert about a woman who had kidnapped her infant son and took off in a 2012 blue Dodge Avenger, according to a statement from the Thurston County Sheriff's Office.
Once the father and daughter spotted the vehicle, they got close enough to match the license plate to the alert and the chase was on.
The two followed the car down Interstate 5 with Chad at the wheel while Camryn called 911. Police arrived minutes later, pursuing the car back into Lacey where they stopped and arrested the driver, 32-year old Cassandra Wilhelm, at 10:51 a.m. The child was unharmed, according to authorities.
Wilhelm had allegedly kidnapped her son earlier that morning after arriving at the home of her husband, Bryan, who lives in nearby Olympia. The two are currently separated. Wilhelm allegedly assaulted Bryan by punching and scratching his face and biting his arm before taking off with their son, police said.
Authorities said that Bryan, who filed an order of protection for both him and his son against his wife in June, told police that she was schizophrenic and a heroin user.
Bryan did not return calls for comment through his mother Lezly, who would not disclose her last name. She said she is thankful her grandson is safe.
"It was just wonderful that the Amber Alert worked so quickly," she said. "And I want to thank Camryn and Chad for following the car until police got there."
Wilhelm was being held in the Thurston County Jail on no bail. She will be arraigned in court this afternoon and faces two felony charges for kidnapping and violating the order of protection. She did not yet have a lawyer.
The AMBER Alert system sends messages to alert the public when children are reported missing or kidnapped, on radio and television broadcasts along with mobile devices and over the Internet. It is named after Amber Hagerman, a 9-year old girl who went missing while bike riding in Arlington, Texas, in 1996 and was later found murdered, according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Lt. Cliff Ziesener of the Thurston County Sheriff's Office commended Wood for her bravery and motivation in making the call. "If more people did that, that would be great," he said. "The Amber Alert does rely on the citizens to help the police out."
As for Wood, she says that the credit goes to both her and her dad, calling it a "team effort," and that she's just glad that the child is safe with his dad.
"I just hope that he can grow up and have a very good life with his dad, a really good relationship."