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Teen abduction victim given a new car

Alexandra, the teenage girl who was abducted from a Maple Ridge strip mall and badly beaten three weeks ago, was back in the news for all the right reasons on Sunday afternoon.

"She deserves a big smile on her face after what she's endured," her mother, Deborah, told television cameras and reporters, who came to see the girl surprised by the gift of a car from Maple Ridge Chrysler.

On Jan. 19, the 17-year-old who works running food at Fox's Reach pub, was taken at gunpoint from the Westgate Mall. Her abductor forced her to drive away in her red 1993 Honda Civic, and took her to a secluded area. She was badly beaten, although not sexually assaulted, and was only able to get away by "playing dead." Seeing her chance to flee, she ran to a nearby house and was taken in. A suspect in the attack has since been apprehended.

She bought it with her own money from working, but Alex never wanted to see her old 1993 Honda Civic again, after that ordeal. Also, when it was recovered by police the car had been doused with gasoline.

The gift from the local dealership is a 2004 PT Cruiser.

"I love it – it's a nice car," Alex said.

When she heard about Sunday's event at the pub, Alex suspected something was up, but said her family hid the surprise well, and she was genuinely shocked when she walked out of the pub to find a new car for her.

She took the Cruiser for a spin with her brother T.J. as a passenger, Alex "waving like a queen," as her mom put it.

It has taken her time to get over that night.

"I've been surrounded by all my amazing friends," she said. "They make me smile and make me happy.

"I like being around people who care about me."

The family hosted the event to say thanks to police, the couple who offered her safety that night, and others in the community who have supported her.

Her father, Steven, was impressed by the police work on the case.

As soon as they could arrange Alex's cooperation, they reenacted the entire incident.  That process led them to the security cameras at the nearby McDonald's restaurant, where Alex identified a suspect.

The RCMP quickly released images to the public, obtained numerous good tips from the public, and on the Tuesday evening after the abduction they made an arrest in Vancouver.

"I don't think they could have handled it any better," said Stephen.

Twenty-five-year-old Surrey resident Ian James William Campbell has an extensive criminal history dating back to a youth gang that called itself The Cop Killin' Villains. He is being charged with kidnapping using a weapon, choking to overcome resistance, assault causing bodily harm and unlawful confinement.

Alex said the arrest of the suspect was a huge weight off her shoulders. Steven said he immediately saw a change in his daughter.

"You could tell she felt more relaxed after she knew he was in jail."

Police victim's services will keep the family apprised of how the case against him proceeds.

Alex is getting back to normal.

"We're hoping this (day) makes a difference," said Deborah.

Thursday was Alex's first day back at Westview secondary, where she is in Grade 12. Members of her grad class are looking forward to Puerto Vallarta. It'll  be her first trip to Mexico.

"It's in 33 days," she said. "I'm excited."

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