Sebastian Solache may not have a black belt in karate yet like his father, Juan, or his older brothers, Danny and Oscar, but he has learned enough in three years of classes to use his skills when it mattered most.
And it likely saved his life.
As he was taking his booster seat from his house to his mom’s van around 4 p.m. Tuesday, the 10-year-old fifth-grader at White Sulphur Elementary School was grabbed from behind by a man who picked him up and began carrying him away from his home.
That’s when Sebastian used something he said is called “reality defense.”
“That teaches you how to defend yourself and how to fight back if this ever happens,” he said.
“I was thinking that it was just my brothers playing around, and then I noticed it was a different race,” he added. “I knew it wouldn’t be my cousins or anything, so I just tried to elbow him to see who it was, and from there he slammed me. I just did it because nobody has the right to pick me up like that. He wasn’t able to get me again.”
East Hall boy uses defensive karate to fend off attempted abduction.Sebastian Solache may not have a black belt in karate yet like his father, Juan, or his older brothers, Danny and Oscar, but he has learned enough in three years of classes to use his skills when it mattered most. And it likely saved his life.
He was thrown onto the driveway and took off running to his house. The assailant who had grabbed him ran away.
Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputies are continuing to look for a suspect described as a white man, about 6 feet tall, medium build, wearing black jeans and a white shirt, with his face covered by a black cloth, according to a statement released by Deputy Stephen Wilbanks, spokesman for the sheriff’s office.
A sheriff’s office deputy and patrol car were outside the family’s East Hall home providing at least a little sense of safety for the family Thursday.
“We’ve been terrified, just the fact that we don’t know who he is,” said Sebastian’s mother, Flor Arana. “He had bad intentions, obviously. The first day Sebastian was calm, but (Wednesday) night and (Thursday) morning he was sick. He got nauseated and he was very paranoid. He couldn’t sleep.”
She said she didn’t think sending her son to the van with a booster seat in his own driveway could be dangerous.
“I just decided to let him move his booster seat just thinking, ‘You leave it everywhere, you have to go and do it yourself,’” she said. “But I never thought someone would be waiting for him.”
Arana said she saw the man she believes attempted to abduct her son out the front window of her home while she was on the phone with the 911 operator.
“I saw him running,” she said. “Sebastian saw him running toward the East Hall Food Mart. When I had 911 on the phone, I looked out the window and I was able to see him running towards Gainesville,” adding that he had changed directions.
Deputies, investigators and K-9 units responded to the scene. The K-9 teams tracked the suspect to an area of Roy Cagle Road, but the trail was lost, Wilbanks said.
Sebastian said he feels better with the deputy in the yard and knowing that law enforcement is looking for the man who tried to abduct him, but added, “I feel insecure whenever I go outside.”
Cara Campbell and her husband, Taylor, are neighbors who live just down from Sebastian’s family. She said the incident was “scary.”
“What if I had come out a couple of hours earlier?” Campbell asked. “That could have happened to me, and my 3-year-old wouldn’t have been able to fight that off.”
Jim Haymore, of Jim Haymore’s United Karate in Gainesville, is Sebastian’s karate teacher.
“I am thankful and appreciative that maybe I could offer something to save his life,” said Haymore, who added the 10-year-old has a blue belt in karate. “He just reacted the way I have taught him and the way he has practiced.”
Arana said she has learned the value of the karate classes through the incident.
“I don’t take karate, but it has been a part of our family,” she said. “It’s a good sport, but now that I saw the reality of things, I appreciate that he was able to get out of this situation. It makes me realize that we all need to learn maybe self-defense. You never know.”
Wilbanks added that “initial information does not indicate that the victim knew the perpetrator.” Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call the Criminal Investigations Division at 770-531-6879. The sheriff’s office also encouraged residents in the area “to exercise caution and remain alert for anyone demonstrating suspicious behavior.” Wilbanks said the sheriff’s office is increasing patrol presence in the area in an attempt to find the suspect.