CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) — The physical bruises and scrapes will soon heal, but Susan Day doesn’t know how long it will take to recover mentally.
“I’m afraid now to be alone,” Day told WBTV. “I don’t know if I’ll be going out much until I really get through this.”
The 72-year-old Charlotte resident was running errands Monday afternoon when she decided to stop to get something to eat at the McDonald’s at the Arboretum off of Highway 51.
She ended up becoming the victim of a carjacking.
“It doesn’t happen, you know. You just don’t even think of it. A 72-year-old woman goes to McDonald’s to get something to eat,” she said.
Day says as she was leaving the fast food restaurant she noticed a couple sitting at a table eating. They stood out, she said, because they were not eating McDonald’s. The man had a slice of a pizza and the woman had soup.
Day says when she got to the parking lot she unlocked the car, opened the door and was about to get inside.
“Next thing I knew he came up under from behind, grabbed the keys out of my hand and put them in the ignition as fast as he could, and then she came and got in the passenger side,” Day recounted. “I scratched his face with my left hand and he kept dragging me and I kept saying to him, ‘Stop, stop,’ and then finally he stopped and threw me down on the ground.”
Day says at first she didn’t know what was happening.
“I told him to get out and I said to him, ‘What are you doing?’ But he never spoke to me.”
She says neither the man nor the woman said a word when they got in her car.
Day says her left arm was draped over the car door. When the suspect got in the driver’s seat, he drove off dragging her as she hung on to the door.
“I was hoping I could scratch his face and he’d stop and run is what I hoped. It’s kinda stupid,” she said. “I don’t know, I just hung on for my dear life thinking maybe, you know, with all those people around and all that maybe he’ll just stop it and run but it didn’t happen.”
Day says when she fell off the car, help came.
“I started screaming help and there were a lot of good Samaritans and they came to help me until the police and ambulance came,” she said. “There was one in particular – he’s a McDonald’s employee – and he even came to the hospital to see me.”
There were others who ran to her aid in the parking lot.
“There was another lady too and she stayed with me. She said I’m not going to leave you and she called my daughter from my phone. Thank goodness I had my purse hanging on my left arm” Day said.
Investigators say the suspects sped off – in Day’s car – on Providence Road, then onto the highway, leading police on a chase into South Carolina where they where eventually arrested.
Day is nursing several bruises but the lingering pain is the loss of safety.
“You can’t trust anybody. You just gotta look,” she said. “I don’t do that, and now I’m going to have to make sure I’m looking every which way before I go anywhere, do anything.”
And there’s a lesson for others, too.
“Don’t hang on to the car,” Day said. “Just let it go and let whatever else happens.”