Chased by Strangers - A True Story
This is a short true story about what was supposed to be a fun outing with our young daughter at the water park. Little did we know that the day would turn out to be one of the most horrifying days we would ever have as we would be chased by strangers.
It was a beautiful summer day in 1994. This day started out as a simple Saturday outing with our 6 year old daughter, Jenna. She loved going to water parks and it was going to be a hot summer day. My husband, Johnny and I decided we would drive to Oklahoma City, which is about an hour away, and take her to a large water park for the day. We started our drive in my “old faithful” mini van, which we had for several years. We bought it when I was pregnant and could no longer get in and out of our Chevrolet Camero. The camero was so low to the ground, I had to practically fall into it and roll out of it! The mini van had always been a dependable vehicle…until this day.
The Car Breaks Down
We had been driving for about 30 minutes when the mini van decided it was time to “retire”, and retire it did! It began smoking, spitting and sputtering like it was choking to death. Luckily we knew the man that owned a gas station/mechanic shop just down the road a short ways. We pulled in and he and Johnny decided the van would make it back home with a few minor repairs. So we turned around and made a 30-minute trip back to the house where we quickly changed vehicles from the van to Johnny’s truck. Now I have to tell you here, that Johnny drag races and everything he drives, goes fast. From the truck to the lawn mower and even the golf cart, everything has been given a little “tweaking” to make it go faster. This may have saved our lives later. We quickly transferred out things from the mini van to the truck and we on our way once more.
Water Park and Pizza
We arrived at the water park and spent several hours there, cooling off on the water slides and relaxing in the “lazy river”. This is where you float along a small man made river on a tube. It is very relaxing! We spent several hours at the water park and left soggy, hungry and a little sunburned. We stopped at Chucky Cheese and ate pizza and let Jenna play some of the games. It had been a great day but now it is getting to be about dusk and we have to start back home. We stopped at a “Loves” gas-station/convenience store to fill up with gas. Here is where our nightmare begins.
The White Panel Van
Just as we are pulling into the gas station, Johnny spots a man pumping gas into a white panel van, but he is pumping gas with one hand and “relieving himself” with the other! Right there at the gas pump! I immediately put my hand over Jenna’s eyes as we drive past him and go onto a pump further down. Johnny and I assume that the guy is probably really drunk and not aware of what he is doing. Johnny puts gas in the truck and goes in to pay for it. Jenna and I are so busy talking about how much fun we had at the water park, I actually forgot about the incident.
Did They Rob the Store?
As Johnny gets back into the truck, I do notice the white panel van pass by in front of us, but I pay it little attention and Johnny starts the truck. As we are backing out, there is the panel van again, it is now pulled up horizontally in front of the store and just behind us. As we are carefully backing up, a man runs out of the store towards the van. The sliding door of the van opens and he jumps in yelling go, go, go! We quickly wonder if he has just robbed the store! At this time we notice a faded sign on the door of the van that says “Dept. of Corrections”. Are these inmates that have escaped from prison somewhere?
Get Out of Their Way
Unfortunately as we backed up we placed ourselves in front of the van and were impeding their escape. There is no place for us to go but forward, so Johnny hits the gas trying to get out of the parking lot and out of their way. We quickly leave the parking lot and get on to the on ramp of the inter-state to head for home. The van is still behind us, right on our tail. Johnny moves over into another lane to just get out of their way and let them pass. As Johnny changes lanes, the van changes lanes right behind us. What the hell are they doing? They are right on our bumper! Now I am starting to get a little scared.
Why Are They Chasing Us?
We change lanes again and they stay right behind us, so close, I can see that there are several men in the panel van. What do they want? Johnny said that he did not witness anything while he was in the store, but perhaps they think he can identify one of them, if they did rob the store. The traffic is heavy now as it is a Saturday evening and Johnny is having a hard time zigzagging in the traffic trying to stay away from them. They continue to follow us, getting so close, like they are going to ram us. Johnny decides to take an exit and hopefully they will continue on their way on the inter-state. We change lanes and take an exit, cutting right in front of a semi-truck thinking that they will not be able to take the same exit that quickly. We were wrong, they cut in front of the semi truck so closely that the truck had to slam on their brakes, but they made it! Now it is serious, they just took a huge risk cutting in front of the truck themselves, to stay with us. Now I am definitely scared!
Murder, Kidnapping, Rape?
I ask Johnny if he thinks maybe they are just drunk and think it is funny that they are scaring us. Johnny said they would not have just risked their own lives if they were just “playing” with us. But what do they want with us? Then he mumbled three little words I will never forget. Murder, kidnapping and rape. Now my mind is spinning! What will they do if they catch us? Will they kill Johnny because they think he can identify them? What will they do with me and Jenna? Oh my God, what will happen to Jenna? I have never been so scared in my life!
Did They Just Shoot at Us?
We have now left the inter-state and are on the outskirts of town. These men have tried running us off the road twice. Johnny is a very good driver, thank God, and we have managed to stay on the road. We have run numerous stop signs, 1 traffic light and have passed in a no passing zone on a overpass trying to shake them off. We don’t see them now, so Johnny pulls into a parking lot at a fast food restaurant to get his bearings. All of a sudden there they are, they are pulling up beside us! As I look toward the van, which is on my side of the truck, I see the driver’s hand coming up with something in it. All I can think of is gun! Jenna has been sitting between Johnny and I and I grab her head and pull her down. As I duck, I hear a loud bang. Oh my God! Did they just shoot at us? As I look up at Johnny, he is ok and is cursing at them. They threw a beer bottle at the truck, trying to break the windshield. I was just relieved it was not a gun shot!
Would I Shoot Back?
Now, I will tell you the truth here…Johnny always keeps a pistol in his truck and we do have a license for it. However, when we were leaving this morning, we were in my mini van, so he put his pistol under the seat of the van. When we went home to change vehicles, we were in such a hurry, he forgot to get his gun. I have always wondered if I could really shoot someone if I needed to. I can, without a doubt, tell you YES! If things had happened differently, I would have shot the driver of that panel van that day. All I could think about is what would they to my little girl if they caught us! When your children are in danger, you will do anything you have to, to protect them. Luckily, now we realize they probably do not have a gun or they would have used it just then. I did feel a little better. However, we know there are at least 3 maybe 4 men in this van, and they may be escaped prisoners, the odds are still not in our favor.
Johnny punched the gas and we were off again. They were right behind us once more. Luckily, we were closer to the edge of town and the traffic was thinning. We were going so fast, I swear at one time we turned a corner on two wheels. I was screaming be careful, Jenna was crying and Johnny was yelling back telling me to be quiet and let him get us out of here! We got back on the inter-state and were no longer in heavy traffic and Johnny was able to stay ahead of them. It was dark now, I couldn’t tell you how long this chase went on. It seemed like hours but was probably about 30 minutes. I could see their head lights in my side mirror. I know it was them I was seeing as I had noticed earlier that the panel van only had one head-light. I could see that they were still behind us, but we were getting farther and farther ahead of them. As I watched their headlight I wondered, where were the cops when you really needed them! We had broken every traffic rule in the book, but at least we were leaving them behind. Cell phones had just come out and we had not purchased one yet. (We remedied that within a few days.) I began to calm down as I could no longer see their head-light in my mirror. After a little while, we slowed our speed and continued on toward home. I still kept an eye on my mirror for their one head-light.
We Are Not Stopping!
After about 20 minutes, we were approaching the next town, Johnny asked me if I wanted to stop at the gas station coming up and call the police. The gas station was another Love’s station! Oh, hell no. I told him we were not stopping anywhere until we got home! I don’t know why we didn’t report this to the police when we did get home. I guess I was just so relieved that we were home and safe, I just wanted it to be over. We never found out if these men had robbed the Love’s station, if they were escaped convicts, or why they were after us. I was just glad it was finally over, although I did watch for that van everywhere I went for a long time.
Things Do Happen For a Reason
I believe things happen for a reason. There is a God that makes decisions for us, whether we know it at the time or not. I believe that our mini van breaking down when it did, happened for a reason. As I mentioned before, Johnny’s truck has been tweaked and it runs very fast. If we had still been in the mini van, we would never have had a chance. Was it just coincidence that we had forgotten Johnny’s gun? I can honestly tell you right now, I would have used that gun if I would have had it. I would have shot someone that day. I am thankful that we made is safely home without it. I am sure I would have never forgotten how horrible it would have been to actually have to shoot someone. Things do happen for a reason!
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