A heroic youth soccer coach in Southern California went far beyond the call of duty to ensure the safety of a young athlete when he thwarted an abduction attempt by a 55-year-old man during a youth soccer practice.
As reported by Los Angeles ABC affiliate KABC, 55-year-old Victor Espinoza was arrested after being located by police following a distressed call from Robert Ramos, who chased down Espinoza after one of his 9-year-old players came running to him for help after the 425-pound Espinoza had tried to kidnap the elementary schooler while he was under his 19-year-old cousin's care.
Incredibly, the child wriggled free while screaming for help after he had become separated from his cousin and the 55-year-old had lured him close enough to grab him. The youngster then wasted little time in rushing back to his coach, who sprung into action to track down Espinoza and alert area police about the incident.
"The little boy came crying at me, saying that man wanted to take him," Ramos told KABC. "He said that he grabbed him and he started smelling him.
"[Espinoza] goes, 'Oh, I'm leaving, I'm leaving,' and I said, 'No, you're not leaving, we're going to wait for the cops. Because you did something wrong to that little boy.' He tried to leave and that's when I tackled him down. I'm a parent, I worry about my kids, and I thought that I had to do something."
Ramos attempted to hold down the enormous 55-year-old after tackling him in the street while he tried to flee but was unable to keep him from escaping. By the time Espinoza did escape, Ramos had contacted authorities and an infrared search of the area shortly thereafter discovered the attempted child kidnapper hiding beneath a tree.
"I don't know what was going through his mind at the time, and like I said, I feel bad for that little kid. I hope he's OK," Ramos told the TV station.
No one knows how the child will respond to the trauma caused by the incident, but one thing is certain: The entire episode could have been much more tragic if not for the heroic actions of his coach.