12-year-old Virginia girl saves sister from carjacking

Posted at 9:42 AM, Apr 19, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-19 10:02:06-04

(WTKR, CNN NEWSOURCE) Stopping a carjacker I his tracks was the only thing on 12-year-old Maddie Weiler’s mind when a James City County man tried to steal her mom's car with her little sister inside.

"I just went for it, like nothing passed my mind except he's a psycho and he needs to get out of the car," Weiler said.


She and her 7-year-old sister Mollie were on their way to Busch Gardens with their mom on Saturday when they witnessed an accident on the corner of John Taylor Highway and Greensprings Plantation Drive.

"We saw the car crash happen right before us, two cars in front of us," Weiler said.

Maddie's mom pulled over to help, but while she was on the phone with 911, she says the man who caused the accident - Paul Salsman - approached her van with her two girls inside.

"I could see him going towards the van and I'm screaming," Brandie Weiler said.

While the girls were waiting for their mom police and Maddie say the suspect approached their vehicle, stuck his hand inside the car, unlocked the door and climbed inside.

He tried to take off, but Maddie was ready for a fight. "I put the car in drive because that's a safety feature on the van, and held it there. And I just started punching him, and screaming as loud as I could."

Maddie's little sister Mollie was able to make it out of the vehicle. "I thought that he was going to take us," she said.

She watched as her older sister gave Salsman a beat down.

"It was amazing because she has never done that, and I just felt so glad that she did that," Mollie Weiler said.

Maddie hails from a family of police officers and firefighters. Her parents say they had gone over situations like this numerous times with their children.

"She's always been told if anyone tries to take you, kick, scream, bite, hit, gouge out their eyes, whatever you have to do," her father Steven said.

But even her father says Maddie's decision to throw the car in drive to keep the engine from starting surprised him. "This could have been an Amber Alert had it not been for her thinking."

Maddie suffered a fractured growth plate in her wrist for her bravery. "Oh yeah. It hurts."

But her message to young girls is clear: never, ever give up.

Paul Salsman was charged with three counts of felony carjacking, felony hit and run and driving under the influence of drugs.

Police said he tried to steal two other vehicles before they arrived.

They said Salsman had to be shocked with a stun gun two times before he was finally taken into custody.