Daycare hero and kidnapper both from Fort St. James

Child care provider wrestles an attacker to keep children safe

Chelsi Sabbe and her mom, Anna Prestmo                                Photo submitted

Chelsi Sabbe and her mom, Anna Prestmo Photo submitted

By now most people have heard the story of Chelsi Sabbe, the owner of a Tiny Treasures licensed daycare in Prince George.

On Tuesday last week at a school playground, Chelsi bravely fought off a man trying to kidnap two of the six children in her care between the ages of one and seven years old.

She screamed for help and used her mixed marshall arts training to intercept the man as he tried to run away with a four year old boy. Chelsi ran after them and had to physically wrestle the man down to free the child and create a barrier between herself and the children. She managed to stop his repeated assaults and several attempts to grab the children until he ran away and hid nearby. A neighbour heard her and called 911. The RCMP arrived swiftly and were able to apprehend him.

Sabbe who did all her schooling in Fort St. James said she wasn’t letting him get away with one of those kids. And she meant it. Everyone who heard the news is very relieved to hear it turned out well with RCMP attending the scene within minutes and arresting the 35 year old Kenneth John, also originally from Fort St. James, and with a long criminal history. With the children unharmed and the perpetrator in jail it was the best possible outcome.

Chelsi’s mother, Anna Prestmo, said in an interview with the Caledonia Courier that “I was shocked and just sick about it, she says, adding “But I really wasn’t surprised that she attacked him like that, because you know she loves those children like her own and takes her job, her responsibilities very seriously there. She always has. Nobody was going to get one of those kids. She’s always been like that. It’s not out of character.”

Chelsi managed to keep her wits about her while she fought off the attacker, at the same time yelling to the kids to “run to the lady with the white shirt”, the neighbour who came out and called the police. Chelsi yelled for her to take them inside her house lock the door.

“I’m super duper proud of her of course,” says Anna, “and I’m so thankful that it turned out the way it turned out. That everybody is safe and those children are safe.. and you know I was just there on Monday morning and saw those children the day before, and I know the children..”

Anna said the children are all unharmed and Chelsi is strong and is doing fine. “She has a bunch of bruises on her head and arm and her neck and her hands were swollen” but she was happy to be playing baseball in a tournament on the weekend.

Chelsi has had an overabundance of messages of support and gratitude. A lot of people in Vanderhoof and Fort St. James know Chelsi as she was born in Vanderhoof and then did all her schooling in Fort St. James before moving back to Vanderhoof where she ran a daycare in Vanderhoof for 11 years before moving to Prince George in 2013.

35 year old Kenneth John has been charged with two counts of kidnapping and one count each of assault and obstructing a police officer.