A Chicago man thought he was simply helping a stranded motorist on the North Side Monday morning before he realized his intervention helped save a 14-year-old girl from her alleged abuser.
Police say the man was sitting on his porch in the 1800 block of West Cuyler Avenue just before 10:30 a.m. Monday when he saw an old van run out of gas in the street. The man, who declined to be named, helped the driver push the stalled van to a parking spot and noticed a young female at the wheel, according to the Sun-Times.
“There was this little girl steering,’’ the man said, telling the Tribune he thought the older man and the teen might be a couple who crashed the vehicle noting the van’s radiator was “spewing antifreeze’’ and damaged up front.
“I only made it 15 or 20 feet when she was right at my heels," the man said, guessing the girl slipped out of the van when the other man wasn't looking. “She kept saying, 'Help me, help me, hide me. He was trying to rape me.'"
Saying the teen was "scared to death," the man quickly took her to his home nearby where he and his fiance called 911. ABC Chicago says police arrived before the alleged abuser, later identified as 23-year-old Richard Velasco, could figure out what was going on. Velasco had returned from buying a can of gas, and was arrested on the scene.
In court, prosecutors said Velasco met the girl at a party and offered her a ride home, later attacking her when the van stalled. WGN reports Velasco was a family friend, leading the teen to think she could safely accept a ride from him.
On Wednesday, Velasco was ordered held on $300,000 bail after being charged with aggravated criminal sexual abuse and attempted criminal sexual assault.
"She's a brave young girl," the man told WGN (embedded). "I did what anyone would have done. The chance that she took and the fact that she got away, I commend her with everything. It's just amazing."