Missing girl saved by showing drivers TikTok distress signal

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Missing girl saved by showing drivers TikTok distress signal

A North Carolina teen allegedly abducted by an older man was rescued after she flashed a passing motorist a hand sign popularized on TikTok as a distress signal.

The unnamed 16-year-old was at a traffic stop on Interstate 75 in southern Kentucky Thursday afternoon when she made the gesture, according to Fox 8 News. She was a passenger in a Toyota Camry being driven by her apparent abductor.

According to the Laurel County Sheriff’s Office, the motion — a fist enclosed across the thumb placed in front of the palm — “represents violence at home – I need help – domestic violence.”

A driver saw the SOS and called 911, following the Camry and providing authorities updates on their location.

The older man was later identified as 61-year-old James Herbert Brick of Cherokee, North Carolina, who was reportedly on his way to see relatives in Ohio.

Brick’s phone contained a photo of a girl being portrayed in a sexual manner, police said.

The teen reportedly flashed a hand signal that meant she needed help in a time of distress.
The teen reportedly flashed a hand signal that meant she needed help in a time of distress.
Mike Blake/File Photo/File Photo/REUTERS

He was taken to the Laurel County Correctional Center and charged with unlawful imprisonment and possession of matter showing sex performances by a minor.

The teen had been reported missing by her family on Tuesday.  Laurel County Deputy Gilbert Acciardo said she had initially gone willingly with Brick.  At some point, though, “I think she started fearing for her life,” Acciardo said, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader.

The TikTok SOS gained popularity during pandemic shutdowns as a way for people to indicate they were in unsafe situations at home.

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