Published: 12:50 GMT, 11 February 2020 | Updated: 17:07 GMT, 11 February 2020
A three-year-old girl was rescued in Florida on Monday after an amber alert was issued when she was snatched from her father’s car in her driveway.
Madeline Mejia had been buckled into her father Lester’s car in Apopka, near Orlando, on Monday at around 6am when he ran back inside to grab his keys.
In the few seconds that he was back in the house, he said he heard a scream.
He then went back outside to find Madeline gone. She had been snatched by a man her father did not recognize and placed in a black Honda which sped off.
This is the moment three-year-old Madeline Meija was rescued from an abductor’s car on I-1O near Tallahassee, Florida, on Monday, five hours after being snatched from her father’s yard. Police used a plane to track down the vehicle – which had traveled 250 miles away. Four people, three men and a woman, arrested, including the man shown being cuffed (right). They have not been named
The girl’s father followed the vehicle as it sped away but lost sight of it. He then had to return home because he had forgotten his cell phone, he said.
Police then took a Cessna plane out to try to track down the vehicle. Lester was able to describe it and give them its Texas license plate.
Madeline was sitting in her front yard at 6am when she was snatched. An amber alert was later issued
Authorities found it around 5 hours later, 250 miles away, on Interstate 10 near Tallahassee.
They arrested four people, including 19-year-old Kevin Olmeda-Velis and 18-year-old Tania Fortin-Duarte.
The other two men who were taken into custody have not been named.
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement shared a photograph of the dramatic rescue on Monday afternoon.
It showed Madeline clutching on to a cop while being lifted out of the car.
Lt. Kim Montes Madeline ‘was scared’ and that the situation was ‘very traumatic.’
The girl’s father said her mother lives in a different state.
19-year-old Kevin Olmeda-Velis and 18-year-old Tania Fortin-Duarte are two of the four people arrested. The other two men have not been named
Police tracked down the car to 250 miles away and were able to swoop in on it
The girl’s father had put her in the back of his car in the driveway of their home in Apopka on Monday when he went back inside to get the keys
This is the black Honda with Texas plates that abducted the girl on Monday
It is unclear if that has anything to do with the police theory that the car Madeline was in was heading towards Texas.
He said he has a good relationship with the girl’s mother.
Madeline’s father gave an interview afterwards where he described the five hours they were apart as ‘anguish’.
‘It was anguish not knowing what was happening to my daughter.
‘I’m happy for my baby coming back,’ Lester Mejia told WFTV9. She was happy to be home.
Madeline with her father Lester after they were reunited on Monday. He said it was ‘anguish’ not knowing where she was