31.01.2023

Garbage men rescue missing 10-year-old girl from accused kidnapper

Two Louisiana sanitation workers helped rescue a missing child on Monday, using their garbage truck to detain her accused kidnapper until police arrived.

The two garbage men, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, were making their usual stops Monday morning when they recognized a car from an Amber Alert for Jalisa Lasalle, 10. Thinking quickly, they blocked the car’s exit with their truck and called 911. Police then arrived, arrested the suspected kidnapper, and rescued Lasalle from his car.

“I just saved that little girl’s life,” Merrick, an employee of Pelican Waste & Debris, said in a Facebook video. “They saved that little girl thanks to two Pelican drivers.”

The New Iberia Police Department said the suspect, Michael Sereal, 33, has been arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping. He has a history of sex crimes, the department told KATC. Sereal was charged in 2006 with raping a 14-year-old– though he was later only convicted of carnal knowledge of a juvenile– and failed to register as a sex offender.

Police described Lasalle as “safe” and told KATC she had undergone a medical examination, but did not provide details.

Merrick and Antoine’s employer congratulated them for their heroic act on Monday.

“HUGE shoutout to our employees, Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, for their vigilance in helping this missing 10-year-old girl return safely to her family,” Pelican Waste & Debris wrote in a Facebook post. “Way to go guys!!”

Lasalle had gone missing on Sunday night, and was last seen in New Iberia getting into a silver Nissan Altima. Police issued an Amber Alert overnight.

Around 7am the next morning, Merrick and Antoine found that Nissan in a grassy field in nearby St. Martin Parish, and knew something was wrong.

“Something told me, what’s that car doing off in the field like that?” Merrick said. “That’s the dude with the little girl.”

In Merrick’s video, his garbage truck can be seen blocking the path from that field to the main road.

“Thank God they got him now,” Merrick said, adding that he himself is a father. “Thank God, because I’ve got a little girl.”

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