Sacramento Letter Carrier Ivan Crisostomo was honored as a hero on Thursday for his quick thinking and compassionate treatment of 16-year-old Crystal Hellman. The teenager had been missing for three months after allegedly being abducted and later sold to a sex trafficker.
Crystal said she was drugged and sexually abused in a brutal fashion during her captivity.
She also said she managed to escape while riding in the car with her abductor and two other people. She created a distraction by yelling, causing the driver to slam on the brakes. That allowed Crystal to jump out of the car, while also grabbing her abductor’s cell phone.
Crisostomo was on his mail route when he found Crystal standing alone on the sidewalk, shaking uncontrollably in shock and fear.
"I wanted her to feel safe and let her know that no one was going to take her until the police arrived," said Crisostomo, who stayed with the teen while law enforcement responded to a 911 call made by Crystal's mother, Stacey Hellman.
"The memories of her fear and pain still haunt me, but I am happy I was there for her," he added. "I’m not a hero, I just followed my heart; it was a human response."
Postal officials said Ivan Crisostomo is now one over than 300 letter carriers nationwide honored for their heroic deeds, which include everything from assisting the elderly to reporting house fires. In this case, 20-year postal veteran Ivan Crisostomo saved a teenager from the horrors of sex slavery.