Hero 12-Year-Old Stops Carjacker Because She Knows Cars

Illustration for article titled Hero 12-Year-Old Stops Carjacker Because She Knows Carsem/em

If you think you can just hop into a car and drive off while 12-year-old Maddie Weiler is in there, think again, motherlumper. Maddie Weiler doesn’t have time for bullshit; she has to get to Busch Gardens with her 7-year-old sister and her mom, and that means that if you try to carjack her mom’s Toyota minivan, it’s not going to work, because Maddie will beat your ass and use the car’s own transmission/starter lockout to foil the heist.

Here’s what happened, according to TV station WTKR: police say that over easter weekend, Brandie Weiler, Maddie’s mom, was taking her two daughters to Busch Gardens in Virginia when they saw an accident happen right in front of them. Being a helpful sort, Weiler pulled over to offer assistance and call 911, the station reported.

While Weiler was out of the car and on the phone with police, the driver of one of the cars involved in the accident, 21-year-old Paul Salsman, allegedly walked over to the Toyota with the two Weiler girls inside, and entered the car.


In the driver’s seat, Salsman attempted to drive the car away, all while saying “Let’s go,” and “I need to get to this place,” according to the report.

Maddie was ready for him. She started punching Salsman and screaming, pounding and hitting him. Maddie told WTKR of her attack:

“I just went for it. Nothing passed my mind except, ‘He is a psycho and he needs to get out of the car’.”

But it’s not the savage beat-down that really impresses me. Aside from letting some fists of fury fly, Maddie also was thinking strategically, and had a plan:

“I put the car in drive because that is a safety feature on the van, and held it there.”


That’s some good thinking! Maddie knew that the Toyota, like pretty much all automatics, has a lockout that prevents a car from being started unless it’s in park or neutral.

By holding that gearshift in D, there was nothing Salsman could do save for receive a well-deserved beating from a preteen girl.


Maddie suffered a fractured growth plate in her arm, a little bit of blowback from all the whoop-ass she was dispensing, and her arm is currently in a cast that you can only hope of getting to sign.

I don’t know about you, but I want this girl on my side when shit goes down. She’s a steely-eyed, clear-headed fighter in a tight corner.


Also, this is the first time I can think of that a carjacking was prevented thanks to a feature of an automatic transmission. That’s even more impressive.

Senior Editor, Jalopnik • Running: 1973 VW Beetle, 2006 Scion xB, 1990 Nissan Pao, 1991 Yugo GV Plus, 2020 Changli EV • Not-so-running: 1977 Dodge Tioga RV (also, buy my book!: https://rb.gy/udnqhh)

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Looks like he wasn’t quite the traveling Salsman.