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What to do when you’re: kidnapped at gunpoint
What to do when you’re: kidnapped at gunpoint

Around 9:30 on a cold March morning, a 17-year-old girl was carjacked at gunpoint in New Jersey, USA. This was unexpected. The identity of the woman holding the gun on her was not.

In the preceding weeks, the teenager had given her newborn baby up for adoption. Forty-five-year-old Floribert Nava – the woman now pointing a gun at her – desperately wanted the child and was devastated when a Philadelphia family was chosen instead. It seemed she was not taking no for an answer. “Drive,” Nava said, “or I’ll kill you and your family.”

Nava demanded she be taken to the home of the baby’s new parents, on the other side of the Delaware River. Besides the pistol, Nava carried with her duct tape, garbage bags and latex gloves. Whatever this woman was planning, the 17-year-old thought, it was going to be violent, and it was going to happen soon. As they were crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge into Pennsylvania, the teen spotted a police cruiser pulled over on the shoulder. Could she somehow get this cop’s attention without getting shot by her kidnapper first?

Smart move: The girl pointed her car toward the cruiser and rammed it.

The result: She got the officer’s attention! With the kidnapper stunned, the girl leaped out of the car to safety. Nava was arrested on kidnapping, carjacking and weapons charges and has since been sentenced to 12 years in prison.

What the expert says: “This kid saw an opportunity to break free and took it,” says Bob Cooke, a retired special agent for the California Department of Justice. “When you have one opportunity to escape, you can’t hesitate. I’ve had guns pulled on me a few times, and the first thing that happens is you have the wind sucked out of you. When your wits come back, you have to try to catch your attacker in a weak moment and bail out.”