Parents of kidnapped kids say thank you to police, others

What seemed like a normal outing for Yanira Jimenez and Leonel Rojas soon turned into a parent’s worst nightmare.
Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 5:53 PM CST
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (NCN) - What seemed like a normal outing for Yanira Jimenez and Leonel Rojas soon turned into a parent’s worst nightmare.

They were going out for food in the early morning hours Sunday with their three kids when their neighbors invited them to see their new home renovations. A few minutes later, the car and the kids were gone.

“It was the worst moment that I have been through in my life,” he said.

According to officials, 18-year-old Tate Wolfe of Kearney had stolen the car. As seen on video footage from neighbor Gabriel Rodriguez, Wolfe comes up, doesn’t hesitate and drives away.

Yanira heard the noise.

“When I saw the car, it was already on the street corner and I ran behind them. But, obviously, I was walking and couldn’t reach the car.”

Grand Island Police started to investigate. About two hours later, they found the 5-year-old and the 1-year-old in an abandoned, stolen car in an alley. The couple’s 7-month-old was still missing. Police issued a county-wide alert asking people to look for the child. Charles Sorahan got the alert.

“I got up out of bed, I read the message and then decided to come around and look at the property I started to look on the porches first, so I wasn’t completely dressed at that point but I was just walking around kind of checking, check the front porch and back porch, then came out here, to the side porch to the south and turn the light on, and that’s when I saw the carrier, the baby carrier and walked outside briefly and brought him in,” Sorahan said.

Earlier, the suspects were arrested by other agencies after using a thermal imaging drone. Grand Island Police Captain Jim Duering says the phone alert proved essential.

“The fact that we had the technology available to put the alert, combined with the fact that we had an attentive person who got the message and checked without that I really do think we would be dealing with a much more severe set of circumstances.”

Leonel and Yanira have nothing but gratitude to the Sorahans.

“We went to visit them, give them our thanks, hugged them, took pictures, and thank them for saving his life.”

Yanira is also thankful and hopes that they will get justice.

“I love my kids very much. I hope no mother goes through what I went through and that we hope to get justice,” Yanira said.

Sorahan doesn’t really see himself as a hero.

“I hope people understand its the volunteers, the hospital, the law enforcement those people are the ones, they did the job”

The children were treated at the hospital and are now ok. Wolfe and a 17-year-old Jozef McAllister from Hastings are in jail. Their preliminary hearing is on Feb. 28.