GREENPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island native made a daring escape after a carjacker took her hostage in her own vehicle and took her on a 150-mile ride.
Rachel Stephenson, 23, of Greenport, was heading back to New York when she stopped at a gas station in Pennsylvania on Thursday, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported. Surveillance video showed the suspect — whom police identified as Raliek Chambers, 18 — jump into the drivers seat of the car while Stephenson was pumping gas.
Stephenson attempted to open the passenger side door to rescue her two cats — but she said the suspect wasn’t waiting, and took off.
“He had put the car into drive and was speeding away and the door wasn’t shut,” Stephenson said. “It was slamming against my legs and my legs were still hanging out of the car.”
According to Stephenson’s father, Brett Stephenson, Chambers allegedly hit Rachel, announced he had a gun, and said he was making a run for Virginia.
Stephenson, a masters student at Binghamton University student studying social work, put her knowledge to the test, and tried to calm the alleged carjacker down.
“Trying to keep the situation calm, because I knew if he got angry, then things would turn out worse for me,” Stephenson said.
The suspect didn’t notice as Rachel texted her boyfriend for help. She even convinced her alleged kidnapper to let her take a call from her father and calmly gave critical information.
As gas ran low, Stephenson saw her opportunity to escape.
“She jumped out the car and ran to a group of people, screaming frantically that she was being kidnapped,” Brett Stephenson said.
The alleged carjacker took off, but police were able to track Stephenson’s cell phone, and catch up with him.
Stephenson is now back at school with her car and beloved cats.
Chambers is charged with kidnapping and robbery. According to police, he tried to carjack three other vehicles before taking Stephenson’s.
Stephenson is now trying to raise money through GoFundMe to purchase a new car, after the ordeal. To donate, click here.