US postal worker Ivan Crisostomo of Sacramento was reunited with 16-year-old Crystal Allen this past week after saving her from sex traffickers two months ago.
The Sacramento Sheriff’s Department honored Crisostomo on Thursday for the heroic measures he took to protect the life of this missing teen. His actions ultimately reconciled Allen to her family and her community.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. On June 8th, Crisostomo Was Working His Normal Route in South Sacramento When he Heard a Desperate Cry Coming From Behind a Bush
“I heard this crying, this desperate crying,” Crisotomo told FOX 40 Sacramento. “I saw her hiding behind this kind of bush, kind of tree.”
“They keep putting things in me,” Crystal told Crisostomo as she pointed to her arm. “They’re coming to get me.”
Crisostomo, who was just married back in March, has four children of his own. He knew he had to find out if Crystal had any family so he could help reunite her to them. It was instantly apparent to Crisostomo that Crystal was a being abused and likely a victim of sex trafficking.
2. Crystal Was in The Car With Two Traffickers When She Heard Them Plotting Her Death, so She Risked Her Life to Escape
“They told me that they were taking me somewhere to hurt me and I kind of just thought I’d grow the balls and jump out the car,” Crystal told KTXL.
When she heard her two captors plotting to hurt her, she made the decision to jump out of the car. She was able to snatch the cell phone of one of the men as she leapt out and ran into the street.
She had to get somewhere safe before she could call her mother, so she hid behind a bush. That’s where Ivan found her.
“Until she handed the phone to Ivan and we spoke with him, we had no idea what was going on,” Crystal’s mother, Stacey Ohman, said to KTXL. “We had no idea where she was or anything.”
“Terror … She was frantic … I couldn’t even talk to her she was so upset and that’s when I told her she had to reach out to someone for safety and she gave the phone to Ivan and he instantly kicked into gear and told me he’d save my daughter,” Stacey told CBS13 Sacramento.
3. Crisostomo Had Crystal Sit in His Mail Truck Until The Police Arrived
“Don’t worry. Nobody’s going to take you. I’m here for you,” said Crisotomo to the visibly shaken Crystal Allen. “Don’t worry.”
Oak Park, where Crisostomo found Crystal, is a high crime area.
“There is lots of drugs, prostitution, gangs in that area, so Ivan standing by with her really provided that comfort, that safety and security until officers could arrive,” Deputy Latoya Buford of the Sacramento Sheriff’s Department said.
“What Ivan did was wonderful. He stepped where a lot of people would have continued driving down the road, and he made a huge positive impact in this young girl’s life,” said Deputy David Cuneo.
4. Crystal Was Drawn Away From Her Family by Someone She Knows, Then Was Drugged, Tortured And Trafficked
“I just cried all the time and prayed that I’d get to see my mom again,” Allen told KTXL.
After being lured to Sacramento from her hometown of Placerville, California, Crystal was tied to chairs and guarded by dogs and men day and night.
There was no way for her to escape. So when two men took her on a car ride to discuss what they were going to do with her, she saw her opportunity to be saved.
According to Crystal’s mother, before her kidnapping, she was in a group home.
“She ran away, and the person she left with took her straight to the pimp and turned her over in Sacramento,” Mrs. Ohman told KCRA.
Thanks to Crisostomo, she was taken to the hospital by police and able to begin her healing process.
According to Metro UK, Crystal is undergoing intense therapy.
Police haven’t made any arrests.
5. On Thursday, Crisostomo And Crystal Were Reunited at His Workplace so Her Family And The Sacramento Sheriff’s Department Could Formally Thank Him
Deputies Latoya Buford and David Cuneo, along with local media and members of Crystal’s family, visited Crisostomo at his workplace on Thursday to properly thank him for saving her life.
“Ivan himself is a hero for saving me,” Crystal said. “Even though he doesn’t think it.”
Crisostomo had a humble response:
We, as mailmans, we have a duty. But as human beings, knowing the people, we have a kind of different responsibility … with our neighbors, the people that we serve. The way I see her she has a wonderful future ahead. She’s doing so well, I’m happy. I’m really happy.