One quick-thinking flight attendant saved a teenage girl from human trafficking after noticing that something was wrong with the young passenger on her Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to San Francisco.
“Something in the back of my mind said something is not right,” Shelia Frederick, 49, from Alabama, told 10 News as she recalled the encounter from 2011. The girl, who seemed to be around 14 or 15 years old and “looked like she had been through pure hell” according to Shelia, was traveling with an older man who wouldn’t let her talk and answered all of Shelia’s questions for her. “He was well dressed, that’s what kind of got me because why is he well dressed and she is looking disheveled and out of sorts,” Frederick said.
Realizing she needed to act quickly, Shelia quietly told the girl to visit the bathroom where the flight attendant had left her a note on the mirror. “She wrote on the note she needed help,” said Frederick, who told the pilot about what had happened. They in turn alerted the San Francisco police, who were waiting in the terminal to question the man by the time the plane had landed. The girl is now attending college and is free from trafficking thanks to Shelia’s keen eye and smart thinking.
Between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year. Around 80% are women and girls, and up to 50% are minors. “If you see something, say something,” Frederick said.