12-year-old stops carjacker from driving away with younger sister: 'I would've been heartbroken'

"I was so hyped up on adrenaline, so I wasn't really scared," Maddie said.

ByABC News
April 21, 2017, 8:07 PM

— -- A 12-year-old girl is being praised for her bravery after fighting a carjacker who attempted to steal the van she was in with her younger sister.

On April 15, Brandie Weiler and her two daughters, Maddie and Mollie, 7, were on their way to Busch Gardens when they witnessed a two-car accident on the highway in James City County, Virginia.

"A sound of the crash was awful," Weiler recalled. "It happened right in front of us."

Weiler pulled over and exited her vehicle to check on the female motorist. While speaking the the 911 dispatcher, the man who caused the crash approached the van where Weiler's children were and got inside, Weiler said.

"I am on the phone with dispatch and I am screaming, 'Somebody help me this guy is in this car with my kids,'" Weiler said. "Maddie locked the door, but he put his hand through the window and unlocked the door. He was yelling and wasn't making any sense."

Maddie began physically hitting the offender, later identified as Paul Salsman, while Weiler tried wrestling the keys from the ignition. Little did Weiler know, Maddie had switched the gear into drive so Salsman, 21, would be unable to start the van and pull away, Weiler said.

Maddie told ABC News that nothing could stop her in that moment when trying to save her little sister Mollie, who was in the backseat.

"I was so hyped up on adrenaline, so I wasn't really scared," Maddie said. "I knew what I needed to do. I was thinking about getting Mollie out and beating this guy up so he couldn't start the car--doing anything I could so I could save Mollie. If he took off with both of us or took Mollie, it would've been my priority was to get her out. I would've been heartbroken."

Mollie was able to escape the van and cried for help. Soon after, the perpetrator, Salsman, approached a different vehicle in another attempt to carjack.

Seven minutes later, police arrived on the scene and apprehended Salsman who has been charged with three counts of felony attempted carjacking, felony hit and run and driving under the influence of drugs (a misdemeanor), the spokeswoman of James City County Police wrote to ABC News.

The Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail told ABC News that Salsman is still in custody.

Maddie suffered a fractured wrist during the scuffle, but is happy she was able to defend her family, her mother said.

"Steve [Maddie's father] and I have both instilled in them that if someone grabs you, or someone tries to take you, you kick and scream," Weiler said. "You just don't think it's going to happen to you. I knew Madison was tough and I knew she could handle a lot, but I had no idea that she could handle this in the manner that she did."