Benny Correa said his wife Amanda Disley showed him the Amber Alert for Charlotte Moccia, of Springfield, the day she was apparently forced into a dark blue Honda "not long after she got off her school bus," according to Massachusetts State Police.
Later, Correa was driving on the Massachusetts Turnpike with his family when he said he "instantly" noticed the Honda Civic described in the emergency alert.
"I know my cars very well. Everybody in Springfield can tell you that I know my cars very well," he told Good Morning America.
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They began trailing the suspect and called 911. Video shows Correa driving as Disley's on the phone with the dispatcher, providing valuable information to police officers along the way.
"I had to do what I had to do," Correa said. "Being a father, I just chased him down. I had to get him."
At first, they were able to follow the car "quietly" but soon the driver noticed, sped up, and ran through several red lights. Disley said she thinks she saw the suspect pushing Moccia down in the back seat, out of view.
Chasing after the suspect, Correa also sped through red lights. Some have been critical of his unsafe driving, considering the couple's children were in the back seat.
Disley said she's bothered by the criticism and that she would never put her kids in danger.
"It was just an instinct of flight or fight that kicked in ... when you see someone's life in danger, it's either, OK, either we just call 911 and say, 'Hey, they're on this road and here's the plates,' or do you go?" she said.
Officers eventually used a road construction site along the turnpike to funnel traffic into one lane, and then slow the traffic to a crawl. When they spotted the suspect's car, they stopped the vehicle and found Charlotte in the back seat, with the suspect in the driver's seat and a knife visible in the pocket of the door, police said.
One officer got Charlotte out of the car while two others removed the suspect at gunpoint.
"She's an amazing little girl," said State Police Lt. Bob Ackerman of Charlotte, who attends Hampden Charter School of Science. "I can't believe how strong she was dealing with this."
Charlotte was transported to the hospital for precautionary evaluation but had no apparent injuries, according to authorities.
The suspect, who was identified as 24-year-old Miguel Rodriguez, was taken into custody.
"We're eternally grateful to the motorists that paid attention to the Amber Alert and called and reported seeing the vehicle," said Lt. Charles Murray. "There were a number of those calls and they made this rescue possible."