Flight attendants make their living flying...but few could be considered angels like Shelia Frederick. On a flight in 2011, she was one for a teenage girl.
"Something in the back of my mind said something is not right," Frederick said.
Frederick said the girl wouldn't look at her or respond to questions, the man she was flying with answered everything.
"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," Frederick said.
Frederick was able to tell the girl under her breath to go to the bathroom. The veteran flight attendant put a note on the mirror for her.
"She wrote on the note she needed help," Frederick said.
Frederick notified the pilot who alerted police. She had just saved a teenage girl from being a victim of human trafficking.
"I've been a flight attendant for ten years and its 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," Frederick said.
Already astute observers, flight attendants are now being trained to spot the signs for human trafficking. Signs like someone who appears to be being controlled, who is bruised or battered or someone who won't answer questions or make eye contact.
"If you see something, say something," Frederick said.
More eyes on the lookout appear to be working. The Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) says Florida received 1,892 reports of human trafficking. That’s a 54 percent increase from the previous year. The increase in reported allegations of human trafficking is being credited in large part to increased training.
The DCF tracks human trafficking by three primary categories: sexual exploitation by a non-caregiver, such as an adult club or escort service; sexual exploitation by a parent, guardian or caregiver; and labor trafficking.
As for the teen Frederick saved, she has talked with her a few times over the years.
"I put my phone number on the note that I left for her and I guess she memorized it, so a few weeks later, she called me," Frederick said.
A mile high mercy for the teen, who Frederick says is now attending college.
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