OTTAWA — A recently retired teacher's decision to travel the back roads of France led him to a frantic 11-year-old girl who was bound and gagged and running for her life in the rain.
Former high school music teacher Jack Hurd of Perth, Ont., believes he was destined to make all those unplanned, random turns on country back roads.
"It felt random, like somebody was drawing me to that place," he said.
Just two hours after he found her, a 26-year-old man was arrested based on the girl's description.
It happened April 10. Hurd decided to drive the back roads because of the cold rain falling in the tiny hamlet south of Nantes in the west of France.
Shortly after 1 p.m., Hurd headed out on a random mission, headed vaguely north, exploring.
"Just following my nose," he said. "I'd veer off, go up and down country lanes. I was only gone about five or 10 minutes to a place where I'd walked a few days before, when I saw a real sight."
At first he didn't know what it was — something bouncing, leaping. He thought it was an animal, like a deer.
The girl was bound and gagged in brown packing tape — no shoes, hardly any clothes — in the cold rain.
"She was totally frantic," he said.
He opened his car door and she leaped in. They managed to get the tape off her mouth using the knife from Hurd's packed lunch. Unable to speak much French, he drove her to a nearby village where a woman listened and called police.
According to French media, the girl had been abducted from her school as she headed home for lunch. She had been missing for about an hour.
"She's an amazing young girl," he said. "I'd love to know a little more about what's happening, but I'm sort of out of the loop here."
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