Shelia Fedrick was working during a flight from Seattle to San Francisco when she noticed a girl that “looked like she had been through pure hell.”
According to NBC News, she had “greasy blonde hair,” appeared to be about 14 or 15 years old and was traveling with a well-dressed older man.
“I left a note in one of the bathrooms,” Fedrick said. “She wrote back on the note and said ‘I need help.'” Fedrick also notified the pilot and police were waiting in the terminal when the plane landed.
Since 2009, nonprofit Airline Ambassadors has been working to prepare flight attendants for similar situations. About 100 met in Houston before the Super Bowl to participate in training sessions on how to recognize human trafficking.
NBC News noted that “[o]ver two days, former victims related their experiences to the flight attendants. In-flight crews were taught to look for passengers who appear frightened, ashamed or nervous; people traveling with someone who doesn’t appear to be a parent or relative; and children or adults who appear bruised or battered.”
When Fedrick tried to engage in conversation with the man and girl, he became defensive, which is one of the red flags that the volunteers were told to look out for.
Fedrick’s heroism is an example of what happens when you trust your instincts.