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Tuesday, May 7, 2019
NIGHTMARE BEFORE XMAS ENDS WELL
San Diego District Attorney Summer Stephan introduced Citizen Hero Dylan Graham.
“Courage is the most important of all virtues, because
without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”
often random and becoming a victim of crime can happen when you least expect
it. A St. Augustine High School assistant baseball coach whose actions saved
him and a student from a kidnapping attempt was honored by the San Diego’s
District Attorney’s office at last month’s Citizens of Courage Awards Luncheon
held at the Hilton Bayfront Hotel, downtown San Diego. Saluting six brave citizens, the 29th
annual event drew 400 dignitaries, elected officials, community leaders, and
Dylan Graham (2006-grad) was
working at Saints in December 2015 when he and one of his students were
wrapping up a practice session in the batting cages at Hickman Field. Hickman Field in Kearny Mesa is where the
school’s baseball teams regularly practice and play year around.
On one late afternoon, a few
days before Christmas, a stranger approached them asking for a light for a
cigarette.When Dylan said they didn’t
smoke, the man pointed his handgun at them and forced them into Dylan’s
car.At that point, the incident became
an armed kidnapping, one of the most serious crimes in the California legal
Dylan told authorities that
he was ordered to drive while student Jack sat in the front passenger seat.The kidnapper sat behind Jack because Dylan
had placed his golf clubs directly behind the driver's seat.
The kidnapper told Dylan he
was taking them to East County where a group of people was waiting for the
As he drove toward Ramona as
instructed, Dylan said "It was a long car ride so I had a while to think
about my strategy for getting us out of there.”
Dylan was grateful he placed
his golf clubs where he did because it kept the man from holding the gun on him
from behind the seat.“Sitting behind
Jack, I got to see him and the gun.
As they neared Ramona, Dylan
had to slow down for road construction.He was going about 30 mph when he decided to act.
“When he wasn’t really paying
attention I jumped from behind the steering wheel into the back seat and
managed to get my hands around his wrists,” said Graham. “I started fighting
for the gun and three shots went off.”
During the scuffle, Dylan’s
student was able to jump out of the car.“It’s a good thing Jack got out of there because one of the shots went
right through the seat, he was sitting in.”
Dylan ended up with the still
loaded gun and was able to flag down a passing motorist to call 911.The kidnapper got away but both Dylan and
Saintsman Jack made it safely out of the terrifying situation.
The kidnapper was eventually
caught in Orange County.Months later,
Dylan testified at the gunman’s trial.The attacker is serving a life sentence for kidnapping.
After the trial he responded
to questions from a TV reporter by saying he didn’t feel like a hero, he was
just trying to protect the student he was in charge of and get him back to his
parents—safely.It was a bond that he
experienced as a Saintsman.We’re all
very close-knit,” he said.
The coach still keeps in
touch with his former student.
Dylan is now married and
owner of a new real estate firm.
Although you wouldn't
necessarily be able to recognize the heroes from the others attending the
luncheon, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan, pointed out Dylan
Graham and several others acted with extreme valor during terrifying
For that, they were honored as
Citizens of Courage.
To see a District Attorney’s Office video re-enactment
of the kidnapping: Click here.