The heroic men saw a suspicious car in a field and took it upon themselves to save the young child by blocking the car with their garbage truck.
An Amber alert had been issued by New Iberia police on February 7, 2021, for a missing child. The 10-year-old girl had been abducted from a family's home and police asked residents in the area to keep a lookout for a man who was last seen driving a silver Nissan Altima. A day later, two sanitation workers named Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, along with other sanitation workers, remained vigilant during their morning trash route. A few hours into their job, the duo noticed a vehicle parked in the middle of a field. It seemed to match the description of the abductor's vehicle. "I just saw this gray car parked in the field," Merrick said in a Facebook Live video. "I just saved that little girl's life bro. I just saved that little girl's life, thank God," he added.
The two workers knew something was wrong and decided to trust their intuition. "Something told me, like just look, I said what is that car doing in that field like that? What is the car doing? Guess what, that's the dude with the little girl," Merrick said in his video, "That's God." To make sure the man wouldn't escape with the child, the brave men pulled the garbage truck over to the wrong side of the highway to block the car. They immediately called 911 for help. "Make sure they couldn't get out," Merrick said. Fortunately, it took less than a minute for police to arrive at the scene. "I was just doing my job man. I was just doing my job and actually came across somebody who needed help," Merrick said, "Got me tearing up."
The 33-year-old man Michael Sereal was arrested and charged with aggravated kidnapping of a child. "It's an emotional time right now, you know?" Merrick, a father of two and U.S. Navy veteran, told WWL. "The main thing is a lot of people are just happy they found the little girl." The pair even got in touch with the girl's family who are incredibly grateful to them for bringing home their baby girl. "I'm just so happy and blessed that I actually saw the car and we actually responded like we were supposed to respond," Merrick said. He hopes more people will take the call to action whenever they see an injustice happening. "Don't be scared if you see something. If you know something is wrong, report it," Merrick said, "Call authorities because it could save someone's life."
Merrick didn't think twice about helping the young girl and showed that actions are louder than words. "I didn't want anything to happen to her," he told NBC News, "We're all from the same town. We're a big community, it might be a small town, but we're a close-knit community. So I had to do what I had to do for my community." Pelican Waste & Debris, the company for which Dion and Brandon work, is proud of them. “We couldn’t be prouder of Dion and Brandon,” the duo's employer at the time, Roddie Matherne, CEO of Pelican, said in an email to ABC News. “In fact, all of our Pelican Waste team have been heroically working without fail during the pandemic quietly, professionally and consistently serving the communities where we collect garbage and debris. They often respond in other ways while on the road. This was an exceptional thing that may very well have saved a little girl’s (life).”
Editor's note: This article was originally published on September 29, 2023. It has since been updated.