‘It was instinct’: man who spotted Amber Alert car describes helping save missing toddler

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CHOWCHILLA, Calif. (KSEE) – A Merced toddler is safe with her family after a man stole her mother’s car with her inside Monday evening. 

Authorities say 3-year-old Jessie Sanchez’s mother left the car running to grab her purse from her porch when they were heading out for an errand. Her mother Melissa says Jessie’s grandmother was keeping watch but in a split second a man jumped in the driver’s seat and took off, with her daughter still inside. 

An Amber Alert was put out at 8 p.m. Monday night and within just 30 minutes an employee at a Chevron gas station in Chowchilla spotted the car and knew someone was off.

Damyan Perry was in the middle of his shift at the Chevron off highway 99 when he got the Amber Alert. 

“Whenever I get an Amber Alert, I always think, like, I really hope I see this car,” said Perry.

About 30 minutes later, it became a reality when he noticed a car pulled off to the side of the road with a small child in the backseat, no driver in sight. 

“I saw it had the same license plate and I saw the girl poking her head up and down, and put the blanket over and there was no one else in the car so I checked it, same license plate, and I called,” said Perry.

Within minutes, police found Jessie safe after being alone in the car for about an hour and a half.

“I’m just glad they were able to get the girl back, he will get what he deserves I’m just glad they were able to get the girl back,” said Perry.

After an emotional reunion Monday night, Jessie is in good spirits, as are her parents after learning the man is behind bars. Thanks to an off-duty Chowchilla police officer who spotted the suspect Tuesday morning, 34-year-old Hardev Singh, who confessed. 

“We are just very thankful for how everything worked out,” said Jessie’s family. 

The Merced Police Department said they think Singh was on his way from Richmond to Fresno when for some reason lost his ride in Merced, leading him to try to steal the car. 

Singh has been booked into the Merced County a jail facing several charges including kidnapping, carjacking, and child endangerment.

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