Wednesday, October 15, 2008


By Diana L. Chapman

My friend’s daughter – who is in my carpool-- called and warned me right away Wednesday that school officials were keeping the kid’s inside the campus after school. The reason: a potential abduction nearly occurred in broad daylight near two of our most populated schools – Dana Middle School and San Pedro High.

“Look for me inside the campus,” the 11-year-old spouted, not realizing that the story would send chills up and down my spine. It’s always been one of my biggest fears that a child I know could get kidnapped, including my own son.

Once I picked up my friend’s daughter, I asked if the middle school sent a warning home. She immediately pulled out a folded letter from the school. I’m pleased to say they did write a warning – a little late, but thank God they did it. I’m assuming it took time for them to sort out the story, because a letter was sent home yesterday, on Oct. 13.

According to the letter, last Wednesday (Oct. 8), “two Latino males, ages 20-30, driving in a two door, dark (shiny) blue Dodge pick-up truck, approached” a San Pedro High female student, making “inappropriate remarks,” which I’m sure were of a sexual nature, and then the male passenger jumped out and tried to pull the student into the truck.

The suspects were both described as bald.

All I could think of was how terrified this girl must have been when those men tried to grab and drag her at the not-so-quiet 14th and Cabrillo streets about 5 p.m. which just shows how belligerent, brazen and fearless these guys are. At 5 p.m. at 14th and Cabrillo, there are still often dozens of kids around – between the Boys and Girls Club and the schools – games at Daniel’s Field, officials leaving the school and adults coming to pick up their children.

That doesn’t even mention 5 o’clock traffic, people coming home, residents shopping at Von's and running errands.

And here were these guys fearlessly trying to snatch a younghigh school girl into their vehicle.

This is why – while so many people complain about parents driving their kids to school instead of allowing them to walk -- I completely understand why we all do it. What if this was your kid? Would you ever forgive yourself?

Fortunately for this girl, an adult intervened to help her “fend him off” and I applaud whoever this person was. I’d like to thank him or her myself – because this is the kind of person we need to help protect our kids. And thank God, again, that someone was brave and had the courage to not sit and wait until the police arrived.

But if this adult had waited, I shudder to think what might have happened.

A report has been filed with the Los Angeles Police Department – and if you have any information regarding this matter, please call the school at (310) 241-1106 or the police department’s Harbor Division at (310) 548-7605.

While the Dana letter encouraged parents not to alarm their children, it does express an important point we need to make to all of our kids no matter what age they are.

“We do not want your children to be alarmed,” wrote Mary Argandona, an assistant principal at Dana Middle School, “yet, as always, we ask that you stress with your children the need for them to be aware and alert of their surroundings at all times. All students walking home should do so in a group.”

Plus, I’m sad to say with the closure of the Daily Breeze supplement, More San Pedro, and it seems – less coverage in the Daily Breeze of San Pedro crime – we will have to rely on each other for this information.

Lately, I’ve been shocked to read in the small Daily Breeze crime blog about people being shot in the back repeatedly and other horrific shooting incidents that are no longer making as big news it in the big newspaper where we all look for our information.

Therefore, I recommend to parents, students and officials that e-mail blasts on stories like this are imperative to keep our residents -- and our children -- safe. Please pass this story on – especially if you have friends whose children walk to school.

And that doesn't matter if it's Torrance, Wilmington or Palos Verdes. Everywhere potential incidents like this can happen.

This just gives me one more reason to tell my son – who just can’t understand it – why I make him call the minute he arrives somewhere and the minute he leaves. Over cautious? Absolutely. But then I don’t want to find out the hard way if I’m not.

And even then, there are no guarantees.

Forward this story -------------------------------PLEASE!