A traumatic experience makes you appreciate things a little more than before. For Jardine, she is grateful to still have her son to love after he was abducted by a stranger who stole Jardine’s car outside a Travel Inn motel in Sunnyvale.
“I’m forever grateful to him,” she said. “But of course, yeah, when I wake up in the morning, I hug him a little tighter. I’m a little more attached to him.”
As a single mom, Jardine says she often runs errands late at night or early in the morning when it’s less crowded, for COVID-19 safety.
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She was unloading groceries from her car around 4 a.m. while a Jacob was sleeping in his car seat. She thought the car seat was a better choice than the hotel room.
But within moments the car was stolen and Jacob was gone.
“I was coming back to pick up my son and I heard her collapse,” Jardine said.
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Sunnyvale police said the investigation revealed San Jose resident Tammy Huynh Luong stole the car and took off on the wrong side of the road.
Luong made his first court appearance on Wednesday. Police say they told them she became aware of Jacob’s presence in the backseat when he started crying as she walked away, after being kicked out of a room of motels.
Police say she drove for about an hour and then parked four miles away. Police add that she ultimately left the baby in the backseat to fend for herself for 13 hours, strapped into her car seat with no food, no water and no one to change her diaper or comfort her.
“I could only imagine what he was sitting there thinking, like I wasn’t coming,” Jardine said. “For the first time in his life, he doubted whether I was coming or not because I’m still here.”
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As police searched for her son, Jardine says she couldn’t help but feel like she had let her late husband down. He died when Jacob was only a few months old.
Fortunately, the police discovered that Jacob, his mother and his son had been reunited in the hospital that evening. The 2-year-old is physically fine, although Jardine says he’s been stickier this week.
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“I didn’t put it down for at least two hours. I just loved smelling her hair,” Jardine said.
She hopes other parents can learn from this scary situation.
“You may have thought you were doing the right thing by letting your kid sleep while you unload some stuff, but there are really crazy people like that who come out of their hotel room and steal your car,” he said. said Jardine. “And everything you love and treasure most about your car goes with them. I had no idea that could happen to us.”
Luong will return to court on Friday facing three counts, including kidnapping.
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