Maddie Weiler, 12, has been branded a hero by her mother, Brandie Weiler, after her daughter managed to fend off a carjacker, attempting to steal the family’s van with her two daughters still inside. While Maddie did suffer a fractured wrist in the incident, she is definitely happy that she saved the day.

Virginia family stops to help in two-car pile-up

Weiler and her two daughters, Maddie and 7-year-old Mollie, were driving in James City County, Virginia when the incident happened. Along their way, they witnessed a collision between two cars. Weiler immediately stopped and got out of her vehicle to check on a female passenger in one of the cars.

Paul Salsman, 21, who has been accused of causing the two-car accident, then ran to Weiler’s van – with both girls still inside.

Weiler told ABC News that she phoned 911 and was screaming at the dispatcher, wanting someone to help because a man was trying to steal her car, with her children inside. According to Weiler, Maddie had immediately locked the door, but Salsman had put his hand through the window and unlocked the vehicle. The potential carjacker was apparently yelling but was not making any sense. At that stage, Maddie started to hit out at Salsman, while her mother attempted to pull the vehicle’s keys from the ignition.

12-year-old hits out at carjacker

The New York Daily News reports that Maddie knew exactly what she needed to do – all she could think about was getting Mollie out of the vehicle and stopping the carjacker from starting the car.

She hit out at him, saying she would do anything she could to save Mollie, who was sitting in the back seat. Maddie said if he had driven off with her sister she would have been heartbroken.

However, it turns out Salsman would have gotten very far, as Maddie’s quick-thinking led her to switch the vehicle into drive.

She told ABC News that she knew the car wouldn’t start unless it was in park. At that stage, Mollie escaped from the car and began screaming for help. Mollie told ABC News that she thought the man was going to take them and she was amazed at how Maddie responded to the situation. Salsman finally gave up with his ideas of carjacking the van, jumping out and then attempting to steal another car, just moments before police arrived on the scene.

Would-be carjacker arrested and charged

A spokeswoman for the James City County Police said that Salsman was taken to the Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail and has been charged with three counts of attempted carjacking, along with another felony charge relating to the hit and run. It turns out Salsman was also driving under the influence of drugs and was hit with a misdemeanor charge for that too.