The City of Charleston recognized three men on Friday who helped rescue a four-year-old Johns Island girl who was abducted in February.
Norfolk Southern employees Mark Burke and Chris Jackson and contractor Donnie Peppers were handed keys to the city and read a proclamation at city council chambers to honor them for them efforts that aided in the rescue the child.
“The City of Charleston owes these men a great debt of gratitude for helping to save one of its most precious and valuable citizens,” said Mayor Pro Tempore James Lewis.
On Feb. 14, the three men, who were working, found a vehicle near the railroad tracks in Riverside, Alabama.
“What we really noticed at first is the out-of-state plates and it kind of through up a flag,” said Burke.
They saw a sleeping man and girl inside the car and thought it looked suspicious.
“I knew that something was wrong,” said Burke. “I didn’t know the condition of the individual so I just called 911.”
Local police and fire officials responded and they were able to escort the man and girl away from the vehicle.
The three men did not know at the time that they had just helped find the missing girl from South Carolina.
“We really didn’t know until after everything was over,” said Peppers.
The man who was in the car was later identified as Thomas Evans and he sped off after he asked authorities to hold the child. He was later captured in Mississippi and last month plead guilty to kidnapping and sexual assault charges in connection with the abduction of the four-year-old.
After the ceremony, the three men said they were were very appreciative of the city’s recognition and are glad that the little girl was found safe.
“Just honored,” said Jackson. “Just glad things turned out the way they did.”