CHICAGO (CBS) — It was just a matter of minutes, but it likely felt like eternity for a father when his car was stolen with his toddler inside.
As CBS 2’s Tara Molina reported, the start and finish of the chain of events were both caught on camera.
The photo of the father reunited with his 1-year-old son says it all – a palpable flurry of emotion, love, relief. The 51-year-old dad held on tight as he and his son were safe and close together again.
“He probably thought he was never going to see his child ever again after his car got taken,” said Steve Eisen, who witnessed the scene and took the photo.
Eisen is photojournalist by trade.
“I heard the screams,” he said. “I heard the cries.”
Eisen just happened to be there early Wednesday afternoon when one car pulled up, and another took off – followed shortly by police.
But capturing the reunion scene is a moment he won’t soon forget.
“The right place, the right time,” Eisen said. “Once-in-a-lifetime moments.”
The chain of events began just before 1 pm, according to Chicago Police. The 51-year-old dad was standing next to his car at South Loop Auto Body, 60 E. 23rd St.
The body shop caught it all on their surveillance cameras.
“It just happened,” said Chatel Cole, manager at South Loop Auto Body. “It’s crazy.”
The surveillance video showed how quickly it all went down. A dark sport-utility vehicle pulled up and jumped out and into the father’s car – taking off with the 1-year-old boy.
The dad ran after the thieves. Police said they sped north on Wabash Avenue, and eventually ditched the car on Indiana Avenue near Cermak Road before taking off again.
Our cameras were rolling as Chicago Police checked out an Audi sport-utility vehicle. Eisen said it was the car the crew targeted, sped off with, and ditched.
The father got to the scene with police in a CPD cruiser, Eisen said.
“He thanked the police,” Eisen said. “He hugged the police for bringing him to his child.”
And Eisen didn’t get a chance to connect with the family he captured, he hopes his photo finds them. He also hopes police find the crew behind an emotional whirlwind and a very close call.
Eisen told us other witnesses were able to share information about the crew and their getaway car with police.
Police were still actively investigating late Wednesday. No one had been caught, and no one was in custody.