A community in Hawaii is breathing a sigh of relief after a 15-year-old girl was found and rescued just one day after her alleged abduction.
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Mikella Debina was at the beach with her boyfriend Friday when a man reportedly approached and held the couple at knifepoint.
“He had my niece tie up her boyfriend, blindfold him, and then took her,” Laurene Debina, the victim’s aunt, told WJHG-TV.
What followed was a mad dash to try and find the missing teenager, with authorities and family members desperately searching for her whereabouts.
Fortunately, Debina was discovered in good health Saturday after authorities spent 20 hours searching for her following the reported 1:30 p.m. abduction Friday, Hawaii News Now reported.
Good Samaritans happened to recognize Debina inside a restaurant after an AMBER alert was issued. The teen had reportedly convinced her captor to take her to the location for food, which led to her rescue.
The stunning recovery unfolded at Cafe Pesto in Hilo, Hawaii, after Bridge Hartman, a host, knew something seemed off when he saw Debina with a man. Hartman wondered if the girl was the teen in the AMBER alert, and started paying close attention.
“Something is off. Even if it wasn’t her, my brain was like, ‘I need to get her,'” Hartman said, noting Debina and the man began to fight.
As it turns out, the victim was allegedly told to stay in the car but got out, igniting the chaotic scene.
“Then, I realized it was her,” Hartman said. “And I yelled out, ‘That’s the girl. That’s the AMBER Alert girl.'”
Hartman was able to get the teen to the back of the restaurant — and to a safe space.
‘She was saying, ‘He kidnapped me, he kidnapped me. Thank you,'” Hartman told Hawaii News Now. “And I just got into the office. Got her water.”
Kori Takaki, who was eating at the restaurant at the time, also assisted and helped Debina reach her mom. Takaki said the scenario is a “mother’s worst nightmare.”
After the rescue, Debina’s mom, Cherese Cher Angelel, praised Takaki and Hartman for saving her daughter. Through tears, she thanked the community and expressed relief.
“Kori Takaki — she is our hero, as well as another young man who ripped her away from this abductor,” she said. “Our friend stepped in, and she’s with the … police now.”
Those who had come together to try and find the teen welcomed the news, cheering in response.
“I feel so lucky and blessed,” Angelel told Hawaii News Now. “I have the whole community here supporting us.”
Duncan Kealoha Mah, 52, was arrested in connection with the incident, WJHG-TV reported.
Police continued to investigate the matter.
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