ABDUCTED WOMAN's CELL PHONE SAVES HER LIFE

Published on: December 10, 2003

SHANNON HAIGHT was saved by her cell phone.

Locked in a pitch-black car trunk by a violent kidnapper, quick-thinking Shannon grabbed the only "weapon" she had to escape — and phoned her boyfriend.

"Honey, somebody just threw me in their trunk! I've been abducted! Come get me!" Shannon yelled to Mark Smith, as the car sped down the road. She knew her abductor wouldn't hear her because the whole car was thumping to ear-splitting rap music.

"I told Mark that I was in the back of a silver Lexus and that we were on a gravel road outside our hometown of Elk City, Okla.," revealed Shannon, 32.

Impressed by her calm, positive action, Lt. Chris West of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol marveled: "Shannon's amazing self-control saved her life.

"Her information enabled us to run down her abductor and set her free."

Shannon's boyfriend, a 37-year-old photographer, was at a convenience store just before 8 a.m. recently when his cell phone jangled to life with her emergency call.

"I was stunned," said Mark. "I immediately called the police."

Shannon, a 5-foot-4, 125-pound microbiologist, had her fair hair in a ponytail as she pulled into work that morning.

"I saw a stranger sitting in a silver Lexus in our parking lot. I knew he wasn't supposed to be there, so as I walked to my office I asked if I could help him," revealed Shannon.

"He got out and asked me directions to a place I'd never heard of. He was dark-haired, 6 feet tall, very skinny, and wearing jeans and a T-shirt.

"I told him to ask the security guard, and I turned to walk away. Then it happened! He suddenly grabbed me by the neck and dragged me to the rear of his car.

"I was in shock. I tried to fight, but he opened the trunk and before I knew what was happening he threw me inside, slammed it shut, jumped behind the wheel and took off.

"It's every woman's worst nightmare. I didn't know if he was going to rape, kill or mutilate me. I was terrified."

In the darkness, her mind raced.

"I remembered my cell phone. I dialed Mark's number and — thank God — got him right away."

As the car careened along a gravel road, Shannon prayed desperately for deliverance.

"I was terrified about what was going to happen to me. And I worried about my mother who lost her husband — my stepfather — just last year.

"I knew she'd be devastated if she lost me, too. 'Please God, let me survive,' I prayed."

Suddenly Shannon felt the car pull to the side of the road. The driver's door opened — and then the trunk. Her abductor stood over her with menace in his eyes — wielding a bottle inside a brown paper bag.

"Roll over!" he barked. "Roll over!"

Said Shannon: "I was on my side and he wanted me to roll over onto my stomach so I wouldn't be looking at him when he hit me with the bottle. Then he spotted my cell phone lying beside me. His eyes lit up and he knew I might have made a call. He grabbed the phone, slammed the trunk — and revved up the engine."

A highway patrolman spotted the vehicle and turned on his lights. The kidnapper roared off — reaching insane speeds of 150 m.p.h. — until he crashed while trying to take a curve. The officer pounced on the injured driver and then removed a badly shaken Shannon from the trunk.

Miraculously, she had suffered only bruises and a sprained ankle. Police arrested the driver — a drifter wanted for abduction and rape in North Carolina.

Concluded Lt. West: "Shannon was the key to her own survival. "It's an incredible story — one we'll be telling our grandchildren one day." — JAMES McCANDLISH