PORT CHARLOTTE — Charlotte County teen Hailey Canfield received the Florida Department of Law Enforcement Young Hero Award on Monday for her efforts in October 2019 when an abduction attempt was made against her while she was walking to school.
“The Young Hero Award is presented to a child in Florida who displayed bravery to save themselves or a peer from danger,” said FDLE Special Agent in Charge Mike Phillips during an online presentation of the the agency’s annual Florida Missing Children’s Day Ceremony.
On the morning of Oct. 20, 2019, Charlotte County deputies responded to Kenesaw Street in Port Charlotte near Murdock Middle School to investigate allegations that a person attempted to lure a student into his vehicle while she was walking to school.
Canfield reported to CCSO that a person in a sports utility vehicle had pulled up beside her and began asking her questions through an open window.
The driver then told her to get into his car.
“Hailey, remembering everything she had been taught (in school), told the stranger ‘no’ and ran away from the vehicle,” Phillips said. “In the process, she alerted a nearby adult who called the sheriff’s office.”
Phillips continued to say that Canfield was able to give officers a description of the suspect, who was later located and identified.
“She quickly recognized the dangerous situation and ran to find an adult,” Phillips said. “Because of Hailey’s quick thinking, police were able to locate the subject quickly, preventing any additional incidents.”
CCSO School Resource Officers provide safety classes to all K-12 students assigned to their schools, according to the department.
“We are proud of the bravery and attention to detail Miss Canfield exhibited in a very scary situation,” CCSO Public Information Officer Claudette Bennett told the Sun in an email.
“The (SRO) programs not only provide educational material, but empower students on how to protect themselves in dangerous situations,” Bennett continued. “This is just one success story and we hope her story will set an example for others on the importance of vigilance at any age.”