A flight attendant managed to save a teen girl from human trafficking after realizing the situation she was in on a plane.
Shelia Frederick said she and the girl traded messages on the aircraft's bathroom mirror, with the teenager telling her she needed help.
The 49-year-old was able to tell the pilot, who in turn contacted police — leading to a man being arrested and the girl being rescued.
Shelia, who lives in Alabama, told WTSP she became suspicious about the well-dressed older man and the young girl sitting next to him because of the apparent differences between the two.
Something in the back of my mind said something is not right. He was well dressed, that's what kind of got me because why is he well-dressed and she is looking disheveled and out of sorts.
Every time Shelia tried to speak to the passengers on the Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to San Francisco in 2011, the man answered for the girl, who looked like she “had been through pure hell.”
After deciding to take action to help the girl, who had greasy, blond hair and looked about 14 or 15, Shelia managed to tell her to go to the bathroom.
It was there the pair exchanged the messages that helped free her.
I've been a flight attendant for 10 years and it's like I am going all the way back to when I was in training, and I was like, I could have seen these young girls and young boys and didn't even know.
Intuition like Shelia's helps to combat a shocking crime that is still widespread across America.
Last year alone, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement identified 400 victims and arrested 2,000 people, according to NBC.
And it's the kind of knowledge that will be passed on to all flight attendants, thanks to a program run by Airline Ambassadors.
The organization, founded by former flight attendant Nancy Rivard, is training staff so they're able to help a victim and potentially save a life.
About 100 flight attendants attended a seminar in Houston, where they were taught to look for disheveled passengers, people who insist on speaking for the victim or people who appear to be on drugs.
As for the girl Shelia helped, the two kept in touch after the airplane incident, and Shelia said she is now attending college.