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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville mother is breathing a sigh of relief after Louisville Metro Police arrested a man accused of kidnapping her two young children.
It happened on Friday, near the corner of 36th St. and Larkwood Avenue, shortly after 8 a.m.
Police say Susan Cardwell was delivering newspapers with her two children -- ages 2 and 7 -- in the back seat of her car. At one point, Cardwell stepped out of the car to drop a newspaper at a residence. Police say that's when 18-year-old Dominique R. Dudley jumped into the car.
Cardwell, who spoke by phone with WDRB News, said she begged Dudley not to steal the car because her two children were still inside.
"I told the boy, I was like, 'Please don't take my car...please don't take it," she said. "And he kind of just gunned off with it anyway. So I kind of chased it…was running wild a couple of blocks down."
Cardwell said she stopped a young boy who was on his way to school and frantically asked for a cell phone. He ran back to his home and got one and started making calls.
Police say Dudley dropped the children off on 41st Street. The 2-year-old allegedly was not wearing shoes and the temperature outside was 39 degrees.
Cardwell said her two children were "hysterical" while they were in the car. She said her eldest daughter at first thought Dudley was her mother, but when she heard the radio up loud and saw that he was wearing a gray hoodie, she knew it wasn't her mom. Cardwell said her eldest daughter pretended like she was asleep until Dudley let the two sisters go.
After Dudley drove away, Cardwell said her 2-year-old daughter chased after the car, thinking her mother was still inside. Later, the two girls approached a school bus and said that they wanted their mother.
Police later found Dudley and the stolen vehicle outside of Shorty's Food Mart on Dixie Highway, near Garland Avenue. He was arrested and charged with robbery, kidnapping, wanton endangerment and possession of marijuana.
Cardwell said she's just thankful to have her children back unharmed and wanted to say a special "thank you" to the boy who assisted her at the scene.
"That meant a whole lot to me because no one else would stop," Cardwell said. "There was cars coming and no one else would stop – you know? They just kept on going even though I was out there hysterical, or whatever. So I did want to thank him a whole lot because that meant a whole lot to me. He was just a young boy going to school."
She also had a special message for Dudley:
"He needs to pay for what he's done," she said. "I'm just trying to make a living for my kids and me while I go to school. I choose to throw papers so I can be able to go to school and still be with my kids when they get out of school. I just really think he needs to pay for what he's done and I will be at court."
"God was involved," she added. "But it really – it could have been tragic."