Dubuque girl may have escaped possible abduction - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque girl may have escaped possible abduction

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The girl and her mother shared their story with KWWL Monday The girl and her mother shared their story with KWWL Monday
DUBUQUE (KWWL) -

One Dubuque family is encouraging parents to be alert and talk to their kids about strangers after a Saturday incident in which one daughter may have faced possible abduction by a stranger.

Right now, Dubuque police are investigating the situation.

According to the family, 11-year-old daughter Kiersten Fort was in the 2700 block of Jackson Street in Dubuque just after 2 p.m. Saturday, waiting to meet a friend, when a white van pulled up beside her.

On Monday, the girl and her mother, Camille Fort-Pfeiffer, sat down to talk about the incident. They said they're both shaken by it, but they want to use the situation to warn others.

"I was just sitting there, waiting for my friend, and then the white van come and pulls in on the wrong side of the road and kind of goes right in front of me and says, 'Hi, you're a very beautiful girl,' and I said, 'Thank you,' and it kind of freaked me out a little bit," Fort said.

The man got out of his van and opened the side door of the vehicle.

"The scariest moment would have to be when he opened the van door because I had no idea what he was going to do," Fort said." I didn't know if he was going to grab me, pick me up or if he had more people in there."

Fort said the man introduced himself and shook her hand.

"He, like, touched my face and said, 'You're a very beautiful girl,' and then I slapped his hand away and just started running," she said. "I didn't know what he was going to do next. He had the van door open. I was just so scared. My heart was racing, and I just started running.

Fort said the incident took place on the sidewalk outside the laundromat in the 2700 block of Jackson Street. That's within blocks of where the family lives.

"My daughter was very lucky. That next child might not be so lucky. You know, that's what scares me, is those parents that let their kids play outside all the time and don't know about this and don't know that there's a van driving around trying to talk to little kids," Fort-Pfeiffer said. "I want every parent to know. As a mother, I would want to know if something like that happened near me."

It's why she posted on Facebook Saturday an account of the incident and a warning to other parents to be on guard. By Monday afternoon, more than 200 people had shared the post.

Dubuque assistant chief of police Terry Tobin said this certainly isn't a routine occurrence.

"We believe we've got a safe community here. This is not an incident that is commonplace," Tobin said. "We'll get reports along that line of a suspicious vehicle maybe a couple of times a month. In this particular case, the report is someone actually got out of the vehicle and approached the 11-year-old child."

Still, he said, it doesn't hurt to be aware of dangers that do exist.

"The case in Evansdale, certainly with all the media attention that that's brought, it's brought the situation or the possibility of abductions and strangers approaching kids to the forefront," Tobin said.

Being mindful and vigilant in any community isn't a bad idea.

"Just, you know, if you see a white van and there's children around and he's driving kind of slow, you know, just keep an eye out for it," Fort-Pfeiffer said.

Police encourage parents to talk with their kids about what to do if a stranger approaches them.

"Be careful," Fort-Pfeiffer said. "Keep an eye out on your children, no matter how old they are, no matter how tough they think they are."

11-year-old Fort said the man driving the white van was white with blue eyes. She said he had brown-blonde hair with some grey in it and was wearing a white shirt, blue jeans and work boots. She said he walked with a limp.

"The stranger danger aspect that they should be emphasizing for their kids: not to be accepting rides with people that they don't know, candy, you know, 'come over to look at the puppy,' those kind of things with people they're not familiar with," Tobin said.

Dubuque police encourage anybody who has experienced this or something similar to contact them.

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