Going Cold Turkey

| April 11, 2005

After viewing an AMBER alert on a local news station in Arkansas, Cogburn, a 63-year-old driver for TLI, headed out on the road toward Little Rock, bound for Texarkana.

“When I first saw the AMBER alert, it caught my eye, because the girl was from Plano, Texas, and my sister lives there,” Cogburn says. “I headed out on I-40 eastbound when I saw this little black Chevrolet with a Texas tag that was going real slow. My first reaction was, ‘What’s this driver’s problem?’”

The driver, a young girl, sped up when her abductor seemed to threaten her, Cogburn says.

“The guy had his back to the window, and then he pointed right in her face, and she immediately took off from about 40 to 75 miles an hour, and that’s when I thought maybe she was trying to tell us something by going slow.”

Fortunately, before the car took off, Cogburn memorized the last four digits of the license plate, and he called 9-1-1.

“When they heard the license plate number, the state trooper said, ‘That’s the one! That’s the one!’ and hung up to call for backup,” Cogburn says. “They told me not to try and catch up to them, because it might set them off.”

The little black car stayed in the hammerlane until the cops arrived and surrounded the vehicle to slow it down, Cogburn says. The police immediately opened the doors of the car, handcuffed both the driver and passenger, and got the gun off of the kidnapper.

Once the girl got into the police car, she asked the authorities how they had finally found her. The girl said she had waved frantically at two state troopers while her kidnapper was asleep, but no action was taken until Cogburn called the authorities.

“When they told her it was me who called it in, she reached through the door to hug me and burst out crying,” Cogburn says. “She made me think of my granddaughter, and I almost cried myself.”

Then the girl wanted to phone home to let her mom know she was OK, but the state trooper had to dial because her hands were shaking.

“I suspect she wouldn’t have made it through another night, because he had her for 18 hours,” Cogburn says. “I was shaking when I thought what could have happened to her.”

Fortunately, the girl was not hurt, and the FBI is investigating this as a Federal Interstate Kidnapping case.

A truck driver for two years, Cogburn says he did only what any other trucker would do in his situation.

“Don’t make me out to be a hero,” he says. “I’m not no hero.”

The Arkansas State Troopers disagree. They presented Cogburn with a plaque honoring his heroism in saving a young girl’s life.
–Kathryn Tuggle

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