On Monday, May 24, 11-year-old Jeffrey Bradley was walking to school in Dubuque, Iowa, with his 8-year- old brother Nick when a car ran a red light and slammed into him.
Instead of stopping, the alleged driver, Marcina Jesse, sped off. That's when Tammy Jo Erschen, who witnessed the whole thing, took matters into her own hands, chasing Jesse down and actually holding her by the hair until police arrived.
Erschen was driving her 20-year-old son, Tony, to work when she witnessed the hit-and-run. Knowing Jeffrey was hurt, Erschen told her son to get out of the car to check on him Bradley and call 911 and decided to go after the hit-and-run driver.
She tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith it wasn't a high-speed chase.
"It was normal speed limit," Erschen says, "I knew that she was going to be a little ways ahead of me, but I got over the hill on North Boulevard and I met up with her just before the intersection of Norris and North Grandview. She had a child with her also."
Erschen decided to bump Jesse's car from behind to get her to stop, but since there was a child in Jesse's car, Erschen had to be careful, she says.
"She was about four car lengths away from the red light that we were both approaching at the intersection there," Erschen says. "I just bumped her to let her know that I was behind her. And she had seen me in her mirror and proceeded to get into the turning lane, which she was already in the straight lane to go forward."
Erschen notes she believes Jesse wanted to get away, but eventually stopped her car.
"So I put my car in park and got out and told her, 'You have to pull over. You hit a child.' And the light turned green and I bumped her again to let her know I was right still behind her," Erschen recalls, "And she proceeded to pull over and I got out of my car and said, 'You just hit a child back there. We don't know if he's alive or what's going on with him.' She just said, 'I'm sorry.' Actually, I first asked her to hands me her keys. She wouldn't do that. Then she turned the car off. I thought she was going to take off with me hanging on. So I grabbed her pony tail."
The police arrived about a minute and a half later.
Jeffrey currently has a broken leg and a ruptured spleen. "I'm still in the hospital," he says, "I just saw something in the corner of my eye and I guess I just got hit."
Grateful, his mom, Dawn Bradley, says Erschen is now part of the family. "We have talked every day since the accident. She's a brave lady," she says.
Jeffrey's dad, Ronny, notes, "I'm just glad Tammy was there. I've known Tammy since I was probably 13 or 14 years old. I went to school with her brothers and stuff. So I'm just glad she was there."
Jeffrey is expected to leave the hospital in a couple of days.