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Two sanitation workers hailed as heroes for sounding the alarm in missing girl case

sanitation workers spot vehicle in missing girl case
Posted at 8:59 PM, Feb 08, 2021

At 7:30 a.m., two employees for Pelican Waste & Debris were on the job in St. Martinville. They’d heard of the Amber Alert for the missing New Iberia 10-year old earlier in the morning, and as they drove down Burton Plantation Highway, they looked to the left, and saw something suspicious.

And they captured it on video that they quickly posted to Facebook. “Bruh, something told me,” said truck driver Dion Merrick on the video, “I said ‘What that car doin’ way off in the field like that? what the car doin’? come on, man!’

“And he was like, ‘B, that looks like the silver Nissan in the Amber Alert’,” recalls Merrick’s partner, Brandon Antoine.

Using Facebook to give us on-the-scene, nearly at-the-moment video, Merrick and Antoine were the Pelican employees who chose to act and trap the suspect, Michael Sereal, in the wet and muddy field.

“Look what I did,” said Merrick, turning his camera phone toward his garbage truck, “look where we was parked. I blocked the truck in and made sure he couldn’t get out. He (Sereal) got nervous, he opened the door, and I said to Brandon, ‘that’s the dude right there’. So we blocked the drive onto the highway with that big truck, and I knew, ‘You ain’t gettin’ out with that big thing.”

And at the same time, Merrick and Antoine called the St. Martin Parish Sheriff’s Department. “We called 9-1-1 at the same time I backed my truck up in the driveway to make sure he didn't get out, and talked to the 9-1-1. The operator basically told me i had about a minute before a deputy was going to be on the scene.”

Both Antoine and Merrick are fathers—dads , and what happened and what could have happened strikes close to home, and why deciding to get involved was a no-brainer.

“The little girl’s safe right now. Thank God, man. ‘Cuz I got a little girl of my own. I’m on my job, doin’ what I got to do,” said Merrick on the video. And Antoine, a step-father to three children and the father to one more, said the whole incident touched his heart. “Right after, I called one of my children, said ‘I love you’, and I can’t wait to see them all and hug them tight.”

There are a couple of messages from our heroes, even though neither considers himself a hero. Message #1: Know where you’re children are, and #2: Thank a higher power for this miracle. “Whoever’s little girl this is, you need to fall down on your knees and say, ‘thank you God, thank you. ‘Cuz it could have been worse’.”

The other message from our heroes? So many people often see things that don’t look right--- but don’t do anything about them, they choose not to get involved. Thank God Pelican employees Dion Merrick and Brandon Antoine had the courage… to do otherwise.

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