FRESNO (KCBS) – Police say a 24-year-old Fresno man has been arrested for the Monday evening abduction of a little girl who managed to escape, about eleven hours later.

Gregorio Gonzalez allegedly abducted 8-year-old Elisa Cardenas while she was playing with other girls outside a Fresno home around 8:30 p.m. Monday.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says Cardenas managed to escape from Gonzalez’s pickup truck Tuesday morning after a Good Samaritan cut off the vehicle in traffic. The driver apparently had seen surveillance footage of the truck released by police and followed it until he spotted the child inside.

Gonzalez was arrested a short time later by the California Highway Patrol.

The abduction triggered a statewide Amber Alert, and according to the CHP, that was crucial to the girl’s safe return.

In fact, the CHP basked in the system’s perfect track record.

KCBS Holly Quan Reporting:

“So far this year, in 2010, we’ve issued 14 Amber Alerts and I’m very proud to say that in each incident, 14 young kids have been reunited with their families safely,” declared CHP spokesman, Sgt. Trent Cross. “And so this system is very effective, but it definitely combines the hard work of the media, the public, as well as law enforcement.”

“For law enforcement, we can’t be everywhere all the time. And so we provide the information to the public, that’s another set of eyes, millions of eyes out there on the roads, looking for the suspect vehicle or someone involved in a crime,” Cross explained.

Dyer says Elisa appears to be in good condition. She was taken to Community Regional Medical Center and was in good condition.

“I’ve got to tell you, it was a highlight of my career to see Elisa and her mom reunite in that hospital room,” Dyer said.

Cross emphasized the lesson that could be learned in this case.

“You need to talk to your young children about staying away from strangers, not getting into anyone’s car without the parents’ permission. And you also want to have that parental supervision, you know, check on your child periodically while they’re outside playing to make sure everything’s OK. So that’s really the biggest that can be learned here, just staying away from strangers and consistently reminding them on a regular basis so they don’t forget.”

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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