A Thompson, Man. mother is shocked and relieved after a passerby managed to scare away someone allegedly attempting to abduct her daughter and her friend Friday evening.
Kristen Jonasson said she had a bad feeling when it started to get dark around 9:30 p.m. and was just about to walk the 100 metres or so to Rotary Park where her seven-year-old daughter and her eight-year-old friend were playing.
That's when the girls ran in the house, saying a man in a ski mask tried to grab them off the swings.
The girls told her the man had parked his truck nearby about five minutes earlier.
"The girls were a little nervous ... but they had said 'we're just having one more swing to see who can swing the highest' and then they're going home. And I guess as they were starting to slow down their swing to get off and come home is when he got out of his truck," Jonasson said.
Jonasson said both girls have scratches on their arms from trying to hold on to the swings as the man tried to pull them off.
"Luckily a lady that was driving by noticed ... that they were screaming, and she stopped, and the guy ran back to his truck," she said. Jonasson said the woman helped the girls quickly unlock their bicycles and watched until they were safely home.
"The girls are kind of shaken up," Jonasson said, adding that they keep bringing up what happened.
She's still in shock, too. "I'm very relieved and thankful for the lady who drove by. Trying not to think 'what if?' but it's hard. I'm just loving up my girls and thankful that it didn't turn out any worse."
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"This is a very concerning incident and the Thompson RCMP are taking every measure to track down the suspect," said RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Paul Manaigre in a release. "We need anyone who may have seen something or may have information to contact us immediately. We also ask that parents in the Thompson area to be vigilant and to take this opportunity to speak to their children about what to do if approached by a stranger."
RCMP are hoping to speak with the woman who witnessed the incident and ensured the girls got home safely. It is believed that she was driving a dark coloured Jeep and had a dog with her.
The suspect took off in a pickup truck, possibly a blue Dodge Ram.
In a Facebook post about the incident, Jonasson posted the colour they believe the truck was.
Anyone with information or video surveillance cameras in the area is asked to call Thompson RCMP at 204-677-6909.
Jonasson said the park is generally safe, though she remembers hearing about someone taking pictures in the park last year.
She said she has gone over with her daughter how to deal with a stranger many times before: "I tell her to make sure she stays with her friends, don't talk to strangers, if anybody ever approaches them to scream their face off, to run away, to kick, to scream, don't ever get into anybody's vehicles," she said, and that's what they did.
"The girls know what to do," she said.
"I'm sorry that it had to happen to my girl, but I'm just hopeful that they catch him, because if it wasn't my girls, maybe it could have been something worse for somebody else's kids next time," she said. "I just hope this guy gets found and dealt with."