CHICAGO -- It’s a parent’s nightmare: Watching armed criminals drive away with your son.
That's the anguish for a Belmont-Cragin couple who were the victims of an early morning carjacking.
The attackers eventually dumped the 3-year-old boy, still in his car seat, on a Streeterville sidewalk.
The family is reunited, but still on edge.
The boy's father and mother are speaking out about their ordeal.
The nightmare started about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday. Abel Mata and his wife Caty were delivering newspapers near the 4100 block of North Marine in Lakeview . It is one of three jobs for the hardworking immigrant couple. 3-year-old Jaasiel was sound asleep in his car seat. But as Mata tried to get back in their car, a gunman emerged from a nearby white Nissan.
Mata pleaded with the gunman and told him his son was in the car.
The gunman drove away with the white Nissan following.
Mata chased behind on foot.
"I followed him, screaming behind, 'My son is inside! My son is inside! “ Mata told WGN News. “ It was very difficult because I felt powerless to not be able to do anything when I saw them taking my son in the car."
Police responded quickly and worked to track down the carjackers.
But for 90 minutes , Mata and his wife in anguish and feared the worst until they received word that their son was safe at the hospital.
The joyous and tear-filled reunion took place at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. The couple gave thanks that their son was alive.
Caty was still too distraught to talk to WGN News. But she says she wants to tell the Chicago Police Department, all the patrolmen and detectives who flew into action, that there are not enough words to express her gratitude.
The couple says they were treated with great kindness and compassion. And she says she wants to thank them for helping to find her son.