EAST STROUDSBURG, Penn. — A New York college student who was carjacked while driving back to her campus after winter break is hoping her story will prevent others from making the same mistake that nearly cost her her life.
Rachel Stephenson considers herself lucky to be a live.
"If I can help one young girl to remember to take the keys out of the car when she goes to pump gas or to lock her doors," she said.
Stephenson was returning to Binghampton University from Greenport, Long Island, after winter break and stopped, along with her cats, for gas in East Stroudsburg, Penn. That's when a carjacker saw his chance and jumped in the front seat.
"I just turned around and went to grab the two cat carriers so I could get out and he grabbed my shoulder and pulled me into the car," she recalled.
They sped away.
"He told me if a pretty white girl is in the front seat they won't shoot the young black kid," Stephenson said.
Raliek Chambers headed for Binghampton's bus station. His demand was Stephenson buy him a bus ticket but, growing increasingly paranoid, he re-routed them for Virginia.
Stephenson needed to make a risky move: texting her license plate number.
"At that time I was able to text my boyfriend," she said. "He thought I was putting into the GPS and I quickly texted him."
"My only plan was get to a gas station and run," she added.
And she said.
After more than two harrowing hours, they pulled into Frackville, Penn., and Stephenson made a run for it -- all caught on surveillance video.
"He attempted to grab me again and I just fled. At that point I ran up to another man pumping gas and I was shaking so badly I could barely even speak," Stephenson said.
It took police about an hour to track the carjacker and retrieve Stephenson's beloved cats.
Stephenson shared her story as a warning for all.
"Just because something bad happens to you doesn't mean that you don't have the resiliency to fight back," she said.AlertMe