Amy Martinez was walking to school on the morning of February 22 when a strange woman approached her.

The 12-year-old from Santa Ana, California, told KTLA that the homeless woman put her in a bear hug and started walking away with her.

That’s when Martinez began screaming for help. She recalled:

“She told me in Spanish not to cry, but I wasn’t even crying.”

Luckily, another mom who had just finished dropping her own son off at school saw what was going on and rushed to Martinez’s aid.


According to Santa Ana Police Cpl. Anthony Bertagna, the mom pretended to be Martinez’s mom, demanding that the woman let her go. And it worked. Bertagna said:

“Our good Samaritan was driving south on Main street after dropping her child off at the school. She sees our suspect, who has our 12-year-old victim in a one-armed bear hug dragging her down the street. She said in her mind she had five seconds to come up with something to say to this child. She tells the suspect that she’s the child’s mother and that she wants the child back.”

Martinez told KTLA that she knew right then and there that the mom was trying to save her:

“I was thinking, ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to live.’ […] I want to say thank you for saving my life and you’re my hero.”

The mom escorted Martinez to school without incident, and the police were able to find and arrest the suspect, who was identified as Claudia Hernandez Diaz.

Martinez told KTLA that she will likely remember her new hero more than the woman who tried to take her.

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