Hilary Grotewold was taking her son to pre-K when she stopped at the Racetrac station on Marietta Boulevard in northwest Atlanta just before 8 a.m. Thursday to put air in a tire.
That’s when Grotewold’s morning went from routine to a mother’s worst nightmare as a car thief jumped into her sport utility vehicle.
“I was getting air in my tire and I felt the car start to move,” Grotewold told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “It thought I forgot to put it in park, and I realized it was going too fast for that, so when I looked up, there was someone in the driver’s seat and I realized it was being stolen.”
But Grotewold didn’t stand idly by and let the thief drive off, not with four-year-old Jarren Griffin inside.
“I jumped on the roof and started yelling, ‘there’s a baby in the car, there’s a baby in the car,’” Grotewold said. “He lurched forward so I kind of fell off to the side, so I jumped onto the mirror and tried to hang on to that, and then I rolled off.”
Even then, Grotewold said, “I chased him down the street and started yelling, ‘you have my baby, you have my baby.’”
The thief pulled into the parking lot of a nearby CVS pharmacy and abandoned the vehicle and child.
“Luckily, I think he just wanted my purse and my cell phone so he took all of that and ran off,” Grotewold said, adding that her son was okay, “just really scared.”
The suspect was last seen running east on Marietta Boulevard toward LaDawn Lane.
Grotewold said she didn’t have time to consider her own safety before jumping on top of her moving SUV.
“I didn’t even think about it,” she said. “When something like that happens to your baby, you just want him to be safe.”
Just last week in Clayton County, someone stole a car outside a Forest Park childcare center with a toddler in the backseat. The suspect later abandoned the vehicle, and the 17-month-old girl was found safe and asleep in her car seat.