NEW IBERIA, La. — Many in Louisiana woke up around 1:30 Monday morning to an Amber Alert on their phone for a missing 10-year-old girl from New Iberia who was believed to be abducted.
A few sanitation workers heard it too and thankfully remained alert during their morning shift. A few hours later while on their trash route, the men saw the vehicle in question.
"I just saw this gray car parked in the field," Dion Merrick said in a Facebook Live video. "I just saved that little girl's life bro. I just saved that little girl's life, thank God."
Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine, sanitation workers for Pelican Waste. As Merrick explains in his Facebook Live video, they received an Amber Alert in the middle of the night on their phones for a 10 year old girl who was believed to be abducted Sunday afternoon. Around 7 a.m., they recognized the car in question.
"Something told me, like just look, I said what is that car doing in that field like that? What the car doing? Guess what, that's the dude with the little girl," Merrick said in his video. "That's God."
They pulled the garbage truck over to the wrong side of the highway to block the car in and call 911.
"Make sure they couldn't get out," Merrick said.
The Facebook video now has hundreds of thousands of views with comments on their heroic actions. Many, including the St. John Parish Sheriff, offered to buy the men lunch.
"I was just doing my job man. I was just doing my job and actually came across somebody who needed help," Merrick said. "Got me tearing up."
Police said sheriff deputies detained Michael R. Sereal, the man whose car the 10-year-old girl was last seen near and the man for whom police got an aggravated kidnapping arrest warrant in connection to the Amber Alert.
The Iberia Parish Sheriff's Department's online sex offender registry has a Michael Roy Sereal, but NIPD wouldn't confirm if the man they arrested was the man on the registry.
Sereal, who police described as 5 foot 9 inches and about 175 pounds, was arrested by NIPD after he was transferred from St. Martin's Parish Sheriff's Office.
"It's an emotional time right now, you know?" Merrick said Monday afternoon over the phone. "The main thing is a lot of people just happy they found the little girl."
The men have been in touch with the girl's family who is overwhelmingly grateful.
"I'm just so happy and blessed that I actually seen the car and we actually responded like we were supposed to respond," Merrick said.
He hopes others will learn to stay alert and observant.
"Don't be scared if you see something. If you know something is wrong, report it," Merrick said. "Call authorities because it could save someone's life."
We are no longer identifying the 10-year-old girl, but she is reportedly safe.