Two Louisiana sanitation workers are being praised for their heroic actions that led to the rescue of a 10-year-old girl.
According to ABC News, Pelican Waste & Debris workers Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine were working their usual trash pickup route on Monday when they noticed a silver sedan in the middle of a field about 20 miles away in St. Martin Parish.
“Something told me...I said, ‘what’s that car doing off in the field like that?’” Merrick said on Facebook Live.
At the time, 10-year-old Jalisa Lasalle had gone missing after being kidnapped from a family member’s home in New Iberia on Sunday. Investigators put out an Amber Alert, believing Lasalle was in “imminent danger” after disappearing on Sunday between 1 and 2 p.m. The alert sent out later that night and identified a gray 2012 Nissan Altima that Jalisa had last been seen getting into.
After spotting the vehicle in the field, Merrick and Antoine used their garbage truck to block the car from escaping as they called police.
“I blocked the truck in, [making] sure he couldn’t get out,” Merrick said.
In the video, officers commended the two men as Merrick, who has a daughter of his own, began to tear up.
“People act like they see stuff but they don’t want to say nothing. But she’s safe now. Thank God man, because I got a little girl. I’m on my job doing what I got to do,” Merrick said to the camera.
Pelican CEO Roddie Matherne sent a statement to ABC applauding his employees.
“We couldn’t be prouder of Dion and Brandon,” Matherne wrote. “In fact, All of our Pelican Waste team have been heroically working without fail during the pandemic quietly, professionally, and consistently serving the communities where we collect garbage & debris. They often respond in other ways while on the road. This was an exceptional thing that may very well have saved a little girl’s [life].”
Suspect Michael Sereal was arrested by police on the scene. He is reportedly an acquaintance of one of the girl’s family members, and had previously been registered in the New Iberia sex offender database because of a “conviction of carnal knowledge of a juvenile.” He is currently in Iberia Parish Jail without bond facing charges of aggravated kidnapping of a child and failure to register as a sex offender.
After being rescued, Jalisa was evaluated by medical personnel. An investigation into the incident is ongoing.