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PALMDALE - A TRIP TO WAL-MART?

Woman seeks to aid Good Samaritan
This story appeared in the Antelope Valley Press June 21, 2002.

By RICH BREAULT
Valley Press Senior Writer

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PALMDALE - When Rose Spears' Jeep Cherokee was carjacked last week in the parking lot at the Palmdale Wal-Mart, Bonita Hamilton went above and beyond to help her recover her vehicle.
Now, Spears wants to return the favor by helping Hamilton to replace the van that was taken by the carjacker.

Hamilton, who witnessed the carjacking, followed the carjacker in her 1991 Ford Aerostar minivan, only to be carjacked herself minutes later by the same suspect. After the first carjacked vehicle, the Jeep, crashed through the wooden post of a stop sign and burst into flames, the carjacker jumped from the Jeep and ran to the van, forcing Hamilton and her daughter out.

The carjacker unknowingly drove off with Hamilton's grandchildren in the back seat.

Hamilton was dragged alongside the van, unable to free herself from the seat belt.

After driving about 100 yards, the man realized the children were in the van and stopped the van. Hamilton freed herself from the seat belt and the man grabbed the children out of their car seats and threw them out of the van.

Hamilton is receiving treatment for her injuries. No one else was injured.

"When we saw the car burst into flames I tried to drive out of there, but I couldn't drive away fast enough," Hamilton said. "Once he pulled me out and I got hung up, my daughter was screaming for him to stop. I was in so much pain from being dragged on the asphalt, but I remember her throwing one of my shoes at the van to get him to stop.

"My daughter and I are still having nightmares. However, I don't regret what I did at all. But I am going to look into having a (citizen's band) radio or a cell phone in my car so I can call for help."

Spears said she feels bad that someone who came to help her also was victimized.

"I have full coverage insurance to replace my vehicle, but the woman who came to help me isn't so fortunate," Spears said. "It was very brave of her to involve herself. That doesn't happen much these days.

"I wasn't hurt physically, maybe a little mentally. But (Hamilton) is the one who is really the victim here. She lost a car, car seats for her grandchildren and was injured. I don't think it's fair for her to be in the position she's in."

Hamilton said she had collision and liability coverage on her van, but no theft coverage.

"My son-in-law and I would like to help her get her van replaced," Spears said. "We've opened up a bank account for that purpose and we're asking the community to help."

"The community needs to help. Or we might just as well throw our house keys and car keys into the street and let the criminals have them. We need to help the people who try to help victims of crimes. (Hamilton) isn't asking for the help, I'm asking for it."

The bank account to benefit Hamilton is at Washington Mutual Bank, 805 West Lancaster Blvd. in Lancaster. Donations may be brought to any Washington Mutual Bank branch in the Antelope Valley. When making a contribution, donors must tell the bank clerk the money is for the Bonita Hamilton account.

Funds donated to the account will be designated for Antelope Valley Ford, to help purchase a replacement van for Hamilton.


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