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Her Great Escape

updated 08/15/2005 at 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/15/2005 01:00AM

On the evening of July 26, as they rode their bikes home from piano lessons in West Haven, Utah, Mickenzie Smith, 12, and her little brother, Kaidan, 9, stopped to feed some horses. A man stopped his truck to chat— and attempted to abduct Mickenzie. But he got more than he bargained for: The little girl's fierce attack on him saved her life, and her description helped result in the arrest of 22-year-old ex-con Damon Victor Crist. Here, in her words, is how she got away.

This guy drove up and stopped. He started talking to Kaidan about how to feed a horse. I had a feeling that something wasn't right. He was too friendly. I got suspicious when he started telling a classic "I lost my dog" tale. They teach you that in school—that and "Want some candy?" Kaidan asked to see a photo of the dog, and he said he thought he had one, but he didn't. He kept talking to us. We tried to leave a couple of times, but he just blocked off where we were going.

I yelled at Kaidan to come on, that we needed to go, and we started riding by the passenger door. He grabbed me off my bike and tried to throw me in the backseat of his four-door. I put my feet up on the sides of the door and pushed back. Somehow I managed to shut the door with my feet. He took me around to the other side of the car. He put me into the driver side—in the back. There was no way I could get out. I was pounding on the windows and screaming the whole time.

So I turned to him and started hitting and punching him—in the head and in the arm and the shoulders, just wherever possible. I'm yelling stupid little things like, "Idiot, jerk, you freak, let me out." He just sat there dead silent, driving. It all happened so fast. About 100 yards up the road, he stopped and yelled at me to get out.

I was in shock. I didn't know he would let me out. I just fought. You've got to have determination.

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