Detroit mother of five injured trying to stop man from stealing her SUV outside gas station

Posted at 5:41 PM, Jan 24, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-24 18:16:34-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — "It's just a lot of pain. I've had kids and everything and this pain was excruciating," said Mary Pridgen about the moment she was run over while trying to stop a man who was stealing the only means of transportation for the mother of five.

Pridgen underwent a five-hour surgery to place pins in her leg, and she had hoped to get her vehicle back because she only had liability coverage on the green 2014 Ford Explorer.

Unfortunately, Wednesday afternoon Detroit Police notified her that her vehicle had been located but it had been burned.

"It doesn't even make sense just to burn somebody's car.. something I worked hard for, for me and my kids," Pridgen told 7 Action News. "You need to turn yourself in. You should be ashamed of yourself to burn somebody's car that did nothing to you at all. You could have left it anywhere."

Detroit Police are hoping for the public's help in identifying the man seen on surveillance video, watching Pridgen and her 12-year-old daughter at a gas station on East McNichols near I-75 before making his move.

During halftime of Sunday's playoff game with the Lions, Pridgen and her daughter ran to grab snacks for the rest of the kids and while she took her keys in the store with her, she accidentally left the vehicle, that has a push start ignition, running.

Pridgen said it was only supposed to be a quick run into the store but it turned out to be so much more.

Video shows the man first watching Pridgen inside the gas station and then walking out when she and her daughter are occupied with the clerk.

The man hops in her vehicle and takes off. Pridgen runs after him and ends up getting run over, leaving her seriously injured and without a vehicle.

"I really don't know what got into me. I probably wasn't thinking because I don't know if he had a weapon or if somebody else was in the vehicle with him," she said "But it was my car that that's my only means of transportation and I have five kids."

Detroit Police Lt. Dana Russell urged people to take a look at their surroundings before exiting their vehicle to see if someone could be waiting for an opportunity to harm or steal from them.

"And if you don't feel safe, if you have that gut feeling that something's not right, just drive off and go to another gas station," said Lt. Russell, who also urges people to stop and make sure they have their keys with them and that the ignition is off before leaving their vehicle.

If you can help police identify the car thief who got into Mary's vehicle and drove off, you're urged to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-SPEAK-UP (1-800-773-2587).

"It was a very unfortunate situation with this young lady and this was her only vehicle," Lt. Russell said. "She has children and anybody who knows this guy, please give us a call."

Because of Pridgen's injuries, she's unable to work for several months as doctors told her to not put any weight on her injured leg.

A relative of Pridgen has started a GoFundMe to help her with expenses and, hopefully, another vehicle to get her children to school and get to doctor appointments.

"Yes, it's just my leg but you could have taken my life," Pridgen said. "I thank God that I'm still here."